Today, lawmakers in our state capital have to finalize the $83 billion state budget. Of that $20.4 billion goes to education, up from $20.2 billion last year. This is a major disappointment to districts and the senate who worked hard convince legislators to increase per pupil funding. Florida is about half of the national average, and this year’s $24 increase doesn’t change that.
But, legislators argue they are increasing per pupil funding, citing the $412 million dollars in 2 key areas. These do not get added in the formula:
- The expansion of the “Best and Brightest” teacher bonus program now quadruples in size over last year to $214 million, to expand eligibility and include principals.
- A brand NEW line item for the “school of hope” program is getting $200 million.
School of Hope will support high-performing charter schools opening in low-performing neighborhoods where schools have been “failure factories” and perpetuate “generational poverty”, according to Speaker Richard Corcoran, R-Land O’Lakes.
Why should we have high hopes for “School of Hope?”
Because if these high performing charters don’t step up to the plate, risking their academic standing to address our poor kids crisis, then these communities may fall further behind. Traditional public schools will have very limited access to School of Hope dollars.
I hope this is used to encourage collaboration and shared best-practices, not further infighting with our poor kids in the middle.