Duval School District Facing More Budgeting Challenges Amid Uncertainty Over State Funding

Jun 13, 2017

Credit Lindsey Kilbride / WJCT News

Duval school officials are budgeting for next year as uncertainty over state education funding continues to mount. At the same time, an additional $215 million lawmakers approved for education last week can’t be used the way the Duval County School District had estimated.


Last week, Duval School Board members and the superintendent hoped they’d have around an extra $16 million to work with after Governor Rick Scott and lawmakers seemed to reach a school-funding compromise at the beginning of June.

“The goal is to increase (K-12 funding),” said Scott on June 2. “I’m going to ask for $100 per student increase.”

The increase is in the Florida Education Finance Program, which is the main mechanism the state uses to fund schools.

But only some of the additional funding would be for “base student funding,” which districts can use as they see fit. Duval Board Chair Paula Wright said just $43 of the $100 could be used at the district's discretion.

“As a result, not as much money was put on the base student allocation side as we had hoped so therefore we’re receiving less money that we could use for other things,” Wright said.

The remainder of the $100 is placed in a pot to fund specific areas like transportation or student support in the state’s lowest-performing schools.

At Tuesday’s budget workshop, Superintendent Patricia Willis said Duval County actually has just about $8 million extra to use how it sees fit.

In turn, Willis said she’ll cut her proposed $1 million expanded teacher-development department by about a third. She’s also recommending some department budget cuts as well as borrowing $3 million from the district's emergency reserve.

Lindsey Kilbride can be reached at lkilbride@wjct.org, 904-358-6359 or on Twitter at @lindskilbride