Sunday, June 17, 2018
Education

Romano: What does 47 cents buy? Florida schools are about to find out

A few weeks ago, I wrote a column that explained how the Florida Legislature had ignored a decade’s worth of requests for additional funding for school safety.

Year after year, lawmakers were told that schools needed more money for cameras, locked entries and campus police officers. And yet the allowance for school safety was even lower than 15 years ago.

The horror of Parkland changed all of that. Legislators dropped what they were doing in the final weeks of the session, and came up with a budget that included a sizable boost for school safety.

This was a victory, they said, for the students. For the parents.

They even patted themselves on the back for a job well done.

There’s just one problem:

They have robbed education to pay for safety.

Superintendents for the largest school districts in Florida say the safety plans will eat up their entire allowance, and force them to dip into general classroom funds to make ends meet.

"Inexplicably, this year’s Ed budget is historically disappointing for South FL schools.,’’ Miami-Dade superintendent Alberto Carvalho wrote on Twitter.

"The Legislature’s proposed budget, if passed, will force Florida school districts to cut millions of dollars from our budgets — cuts that will impact our schools, our communities and the children we serve,’’ Broward superintendent Robert Runcie wrote in an op-ed.

"The question is are we putting the cost of school safety onto the backs of our hard-working teachers and the students,’’ Pinellas superintendent Mike Grego said Monday.

Legislators were quick to point out that school funding is increasing by $101.50 per pupil, but much of that increase is devoted to safety measures and other funds tied to specific earmarks.

The actual increase for the base student allowance?

Yeah, that works out to 47 cents per student.

In other words, any inflationary increases — such as the cost of fuel or electricity or insurance or retirement contributions or raises or health care — come out of that 47-cent increase.

And it’s not like legislators weren’t aware of this.

Sen. Bill Montford, D-Tallahassee, explained it in simple terms before the budget was approved by the Senate and House on Sunday.

"The cost of doing business is not covered by 47 cents,’’ he said. "Florida school districts will have to cut programs. We will have to find a way to save money and scrape by. We told them to put a school resource officer in every school, and then we don’t give them money to pay for it.’’

Because of a complex funding formula, it appears most of the larger school districts will get less than the $101.50 state average increase while some smaller counties will get triple that amount. Hernando is scheduled for $119.18 per student, Pasco will get $88.49, Hillsborough will get $83.85 and Pinellas will get $73.12.

Pinellas was already covering a significant portion of the cost of resource officers, and now it could be spending as much as $5 million more than what the state is providing. It is the cost, Grego said, to ensure every school has a trained officer on campus.

The goal is to meet these demands without effecting other parts of the budget, but it’s hard to see how it can be done without cuts.

"It’s almost inevitable,’’ he said.

Comments
AP World History course is dropping thousands of years of human events - and critics are furious

AP World History course is dropping thousands of years of human events - and critics are furious

Since 2002, the AP World History course has covered thousands of years of human activity around the planet, starting 10,000 years back. But now the College Board, which owns the Advanced Placement program, wants to cut out most of that history and st...
Published: 06/16/18
School board races attract new faces

School board races attract new faces

TAMPA — When long-time Hillsborough County School Board member Susan Valdes resigned this month from the board to run for the State House of Representatives, the decision affected more than just her seat in west Hillsborough’s District 1.It also coul...
Published: 06/14/18
Updated: 06/17/18
Hillsborough schools tax referendum is unlikely for November

Hillsborough schools tax referendum is unlikely for November

TAMPA — Money that the Hillsborough County School District needs to build schools and replace air conditioners might be farther from reach, thanks to a new state law and a bureaucratic process required before the voters can decide on a tax referendum...
Published: 06/14/18
University of Chicago eliminates SAT/ACT requirement

University of Chicago eliminates SAT/ACT requirement

The University of Chicago will no longer require ACT or SAT scores from U.S. students, sending a jolt through elite institutions of higher education as it becomes the first top-10 research university to join the test-optional movement.Numerous school...
Published: 06/14/18
Unhappy with superintendent’s budget wish list, Hernando School Board shuts down talk of tax increase

Unhappy with superintendent’s budget wish list, Hernando School Board shuts down talk of tax increase

BROOKSVILLE — Hernando County schools Superintendent Lori Romano presented to the School Board Tuesday nearly $53 million worth of budget priorities, asking them to choose which will be funded in the upcoming school year.The board voted 3-2 later Tue...
Published: 06/13/18
UT shines the spotlight on visiting authors

UT shines the spotlight on visiting authors

The University of Tampa’s MFA program will host the June 2018 Residency Visiting Writers Lectores Series that runs from now until June 21 on the ninth floor of the Vaughn Center, 401 W Kennedy Blvd. Each reading will be held at 7:30 p.m.Each January ...
Published: 06/12/18
Updated: 06/15/18
Hernando School Board fires Superintendent Lori Romano after member says she ‘lost the public trust’

Hernando School Board fires Superintendent Lori Romano after member says she ‘lost the public trust’

BROOKSVILLE — Hernando County schools Superintendent Lori Romano will step down at the end of this month following a 3-2 vote by the School Board to terminate its contract with her amid increasing concerns about her ability to lead.Romano has suffere...
Published: 06/12/18
Updated: 06/13/18
Pasco summit aims to merge school cultures while making students feel included

Pasco summit aims to merge school cultures while making students feel included

NEW PORT RICHEY — The dozen Fivay High school students and their administrators arrived at the Pasco County school district’s annual Together We Stand conference with a clear goal in mind.With hundreds of former Ridgewood High students arriving in th...
Published: 06/12/18
Central’s air rifle team prepares for national competition

Central’s air rifle team prepares for national competition

BROOKSVILLE — Historic Camp Perry is where it’s at. Located near Clinton, Ohio, the National Guard training facility is where the nation’s top shooters go to compete.Next week, some of Hernando County’s top shooters compete there in the Civilian Mark...
Published: 06/11/18
Updated: 06/14/18
An ambitious new goal for Hillsborough schools: Every child up to speed on reading by third grade

An ambitious new goal for Hillsborough schools: Every child up to speed on reading by third grade

TAMPA — Hillsborough County school superintendent Jeff Eakins has an ambitious new goal. He wants more students to be proficient in reading."I think it is the code to crack," Eakins said in an interview. He also told the School Board on Tuesday that ...
Published: 06/08/18