Governor Rick Scott made a school funding announcement of historic proportions this week.
Monday, Scott said that the state plans to pump nearly $25 billion into its public schools, colleges and universities next fiscal year. Those funds include $18.8 billion for K-12 public schools, another $2 billion for state colleges and $3.59 billion towards public universities.
The amount is the largest total investment in the state to date, according to the Florida Department of Education.
The announcement is being met with cautious optimism by local school officials.
Duval Schools Superintendent Nikolai Vitti said he will watching the evolution of the governor’s new budget as it heads to the state legislature.
“One thing that too often happens is that when we’ve seen increases in funding , they’re tied to certain projects or programs and the flexibility for districts to use that in a way to target their own individual leads becomes hampered,” he said.
The school funding including in Scott’s budget for the next fiscal years will include another $480 million set aside for teacher pay raises—the same amount Scott allocated for teacher pay this year.
The money represents a $542 million increase in public school spending in the state. However, it came up short of the more than $1 billion increase Scott proposed last year.
Nevertheless, State Board of Education Chairman Gary Chartrand said Monday marked a good day for education in Florida.
“I think the governor’s done a pretty darn good job stepping up and increasing funding for something that I think we all agree is critically important and that’s educating our children,” Chartrand said.
The governor’s proposed budget will go before the state legislature in March for approval.
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