You have reached your limit of free articles this month.

Enjoy unlimited access to myPalmBeachPost.com

Starting at just 99¢ for 8 weeks.

GREAT REASONS TO SUBSCRIBE TODAY!

  • IN-DEPTH REPORTING
  • INTERACTIVE STORYTELLING
  • NEW TOPICS & COVERAGE
  • ePAPER
X

You have read of premium articles.

Get unlimited access to all of our breaking news, in-depth coverage and bonus content- exclusively for subscribers. Starting at just 99¢ for 8 weeks

X

Welcome to myPalmBeachPost.com

This subscriber-only site gives you exclusive access to breaking news, in-depth coverage, exclusive interactives and bonus content.

You can read free articles of your choice a month that are only available on myPalmBeachPost.com.

Avossa: State’s budget means schools may struggle to keep the lights on


The Palm Beach County School District will struggle to pay out a 1.3 percent raise to employees and still cover the hike in its power bill and pension responsibilities with the meager per student increase state lawmakers seem poised to deliver as their session speeds to a close, Superintendent Robert Avossa said Thursday.

And this district is one of the lucky ones — more than 20 of Florida’s 67 countywide districts are calculating losses if the budget, as it stood Thursday afternoon, is approved.

That’s because the starting point, the base allocation per student, is projected to drop by $27.07.

“Considering the overall economic strength of our state, it is alarming that the basic funding needs of Florida public school students could go unaddressed,” Escambia County Superintendent Malcolm Thomas, president of the Florida Association of District School Superintendents, said in a written statement. “With a united voice, we call upon Florida legislators to increase the base student funding in support of public education in Florida.”

With a final vote on the budget imminent, Avossa urged voters to act.

“The numbers we’re seeing are very troubling. It’s time that this community reach out to their local elected officials and demand that they fund and invest in public education the way that it should be,” Avossa said.

His message to lawmakers: Spend it on kindergarten through grade 12 education or spend $40,000 to $50,000 on the dropouts who wind up in jails and prison.

“We want the governor to veto the whole thing and start again,” Avossa said.

The state’s allocation for its 2.8 million students varies by district, starting with the base and then adding money for a long list of things such as transportation, disabled student education and cost of living calculations.

When those are tallied, the state is offering the districts on average not quite $25 more per student or about one-third of a percent, down from 1 percent last year.

Palm Beach County, which gets a boost due to a high cost of living, will see about $98 more per student. But that gets gobbled up quickly by costs such as a 5 percent increase due on the district’s $33 million utility bill, and expected changes to health and worker compensation obligations, said Chief Financial Officer Mike Burke.

The state currently spends about $7,196 per student and the last version of the budget that district leaders saw took that to $7,220 – an amount that keeps the state in the basement compared with other states nationally, Avossa noted.

When it came to the education budget, House Speaker Richard Corcoran and Senate President Joe Negron worked through difficult differences by agreeing that the House would follow the Senate’s lead when it came to higher education, while the Senate would follow the House’s lead on K-12.

That compromise took legislators from talking about a 3 percent spending increase in per student spending that was favored in the Senate to one that delivered only one third of a percent, as favored by the House.

This week,  Negron chided education officials for narrowing their focus on the per student spending. Two programs, “schools of hope” and the Best and Brightest teacher bonuses stand to gain more than $400 million next year.

“It would be a mistake to only count in the education budget what comes directly through the (Florida Education Finance Program),” Negron said, referring to the state’s per pupil formula. “There are other educational opportunities that we will give to our constituents, and I think that improves the overall quality of our system. … That should also count when we’re determining funding.”

No school in Palm Beach County performs poorly enough to be a “school of hope” and money for the Best and Brightest bonuses do nothing for the classroom, Avossa said.

“I’ve never seen $400 million spent on unproven schemes,” Avossa said. “Terrible.”

Avossa echoed the sentiment of school officials and education lobbyists when he said this legislative session has been particularly maddening because budget proposals have been hashed out largely behind closed doors with little input from the people who will have to stretch those dollars.

Once a budget is agreed upon, Florida lawmakers must wait out a 72-hour cooling off period before casting a vote. That vote could come as early as Monday.



Reader Comments ...


Next Up in Local

NEW: Martin, state authorities investigating death of month-old girl
NEW: Martin, state authorities investigating death of month-old girl

Martin County and state authorities are investigating the death of a month-old girl that occurred Wednesday at a home in Jensen Beach. The child’s parents took her to Martin Memorial Hospital North in Stuart after she was found unresponsive, the Martin County Sheriff’s Office said. Doctors attempted to save her life but could not revive...
NEW: Girl, 3, struck by car in Tequesta, flown to hospital
NEW: Girl, 3, struck by car in Tequesta, flown to hospital

A 3-year-old girl was flown to St. Mary’s Medical Center late Friday after a vehicle backed into her, Tequesta Fire Rescue reports. The incident happened at about about 5:45 p.m. on the 100 block of Magnolia Way, south of County Line Road and east of Riverside Drive. The girl was awake and alert when paramedics arrived at the scene, Fire Rescue...
What happened to Isabella? Agencies probe mystery of missing woman
What happened to Isabella? Agencies probe mystery of missing woman

On Tuesday night, a neighbor watched out the window of her condo west of the city as official-looking men wearing powder-blue latex gloves searched Lewis Bennett’s car and questioned him as he stood nearby. Neighbors say they last saw Isabella Hellmann weeks before Bennett, her newlywed husband, says he left with her on a two-week romantic sailing...
NEW: Florida woman accused of paying child to have sex with her
NEW: Florida woman accused of paying child to have sex with her

A Port St. Lucie woman is accused of paying a child under the age of 15 up to $300 for sexual encounters, city police said. Rebecca McGraw, 38, was arrested on Thursday and is facing five counts of unlawful sexual activity with a minor under the age of 15 by an adult, police say. She admitted to at least five sexual acts with the victim. McGraw remained...
VIDEO: Man wanders around Miami airport naked
VIDEO: Man wanders around Miami airport naked

A man was caught on camera wandering around Miami International Airport naked on Friday.  Someone filmed the incident on their phone and posted it to Twitter, showing the man walking around the terminal wearing only black socks as he waved to people walking by. A woman told WPLG that she saw the man starting to take his shirt off and she ...
More Stories