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EDUCATION

Governor DeSantis grew up in Florida’s public-school system and knows the importance of ensuring all students in Florida have the opportunity to receive a high-quality education. Governor DeSantis believes that every student, regardless of zip code or family circumstances, should be afforded the same opportunities to succeed in the classroom. The Bolder, Brighter, Better Future budget builds on the success of the past year and includes key investments in K-12, workforce and higher education to prepare all Florida students for the future.

Key investments include: Voluntary Pre-Kindergarten (VPK) is funded at $415 million. K-12 public schools have the highest total and state funding of all time with $22.9 billion in total funding and $13.2 billion in state funding. In addition, K-12 per student funding of $7,979 exceeds the current year’s record funding by $302 per student. The Florida College System state operating funds is funded at $1.3 billion. Total operating funding for the State University System of $4.4 billion and total state operating funding of $2.7 billion.

K-12 Public Education

To combat the shortage of teachers entering the career field, Governor DeSantis is recommending raising the minimum salary for full-time classroom teachers to $47,500. This investment of over $600 million in funding would provide a pay raise to more than 101,000 teachers in Florida. He also proposes $300 million to implement the Florida Classroom Teacher Bonus and Florida School Principal Bonus programs. The new bonus programs would provide financial incentives to deserving teachers and principals.

Governor DeSantis’ recommended budget builds on the educational achievements made during the 2019 Legislative Session, which included the establishment of the Florida Empowerment Scholarship Program. He continues his focus on making sure every Florida student is provided the skills needed to either enter the workforce or continue their education at a postsecondary institution. That is why the budget invests a record $22.9 billion in total funding for the Florida Education Finance Program (FEFP). This budget provides a per student funding amount of $7,979, an increase of $302 per student. The base student allocation grows by $50 per student.

To achieve the $22.9 billion in total funding, the budget provides $792 million in additional state funding and $245 million in local funding, of which is $157.8 million in additional required local effort (RLE) revenue. The increase in RLE revenue is generated from new construction only. In total, the budget includes an increase of over $1 billion in the FEFP.

Highlights of the FEFP increases include: $50 increase in the Base Student Allocation (BSA); $1.4 million, for a total of $181.4 million, for school safety initiatives; $25 million, for a total of $100 million for mental health initiatives; $602.3 million to increase the minimum salary to $47,500 for full-time public classroom teachers; $290.7 million for the new Florida Classroom Teacher Bonus Program; and $9.4 million for the new Florida School Principal Bonus Program.

Early Learning

As a father of two young children with another on the way, Governor DeSantis recognizes a child’s early years of education provide a strong foundation for their future learning. That is why the Bolder, Brighter, Better Future budget provides more than $1.2 billion in funding for early child education.

Voluntary Pre-Kindergarten (VPK)

The budget provides an additional $12.8 million for a total of more than $415 million for Florida’s VPK program, a quality, free education initiative, which serves over 160,000 four and five-year olds. VPK prepares each child for kindergarten by building a strong foundation for school and focusing on early literacy skills.

School Readiness

The budget provides funding to serve children in the School Readiness program, and reward School Readiness providers who participate in program assessment and implement quality improvement strategies.

In addition, the following initiatives that support early learning are included: T.E.A.C.H. – $10 million for early childhood teacher scholarships; Help Me Grow – $1.8 million to connect children and families with information, resources and developmental services to enhance health, behavior and learning in the development of young children; Teacher Training – $3 million for statewide professional development to improve child care instructor quality; and Home Instruction Program for Preschool Youngsters (HIPPY) – $3.9 million to deliver high-quality School Readiness curriculum directly to parents so they may strengthen the cognitive and early literacy skills of at-risk children.

Protecting Florida’s Jewish Day Schools

To continue to address safety concerns for Florida’s Jewish communities, Governor DeSantis is providing $2.5 million in funding for additional security to ensure children at Florida Jewish Day Schools can learn in a safe environment. This funding will help provide security and counter-terrorism upgrades such as video cameras, fences, bullet-proof glass, alarm systems and other safety equipment.

Promoting Computer Science

The budget maintains $10 million to cover the cost of training and provide bonuses to teachers who hold educator certificates or industry certifications in computer science.

Higher Education

In higher education, Florida boasts four of the top 100 public universities in the country, including one in the top ten, and another in the top twenty, while maintaining the second lowest tuition in the country for public four-year institutions. Additionally, U.S. News and World Report has ranked Florida’s higher education system the best in the nation for three consecutive years.

To continue building on this success, the Bolder, Brighter, Better Future budget supports and expands higher education programs that ensure Florida’s state colleges and universities offer students a high-quality education at an affordable rate. The budget includes state operating funding for Florida’s higher education system of $1.3 billion for Florida colleges, an increase of $22.4 million, and more than $2.7 billion for Florida universities, an increase of $23.8 million.

Performance Funding

The budget includes the following performance funding at career technical centers, state colleges, and state universities: $6.5 million for students earning industry certifications in high-skill, high-demand areas at career technical centers; $14 million for students earning industry certifications in high-skill, high-demand areas at Florida colleges; $40 million in performance funding for state colleges through the 2+2 Student Success Incentive Fund, Work Florida Success Incentive Fund, and Dual Enrollment; and $660 million in performance funding for state universities.

Holding the Line on Tuition and Student Expenses

The budget does not include any tuition increases for Florida’s colleges and universities.

Workforce Initiatives

Pathways to Career Opportunities Grant Program – The budget maintains $10 million to establish or expand pre-apprenticeship and apprenticeship programs for high school and college students. Work Florida Student Success Incentive Fund at State Colleges – The budget maintains $10 million in funding to support statewide efforts to align students in Florida to workforce programs, within the Florida College System, to statewide and regional workforce demands and high-wage job opportunities. Work Florida Student Success Incentive Fund at District Postsecondary Programs – The budget provides $5 million in funding to support statewide efforts to align district postsecondary programs with statewide and regional workforce demands.

Last Mile College Completion Program

The budget includes $1.5 million to fund the Last Mile College Completion Program to assist students who left college with 12 or fewer credit hours remaining to complete their first associate or baccalaureate degree.

Education Infrastructure

The budget provides more than $502 million in funding to school districts, colleges, and universities, and funds the necessary infrastructure for public charter schools without utilizing any funds from the school districts. Florida’s public school students and teachers deserve a safe environment in which to learn and work. Specific investments include:

School Safety Grants

$75 million for school safety grants is provided to school districts to assist with costs associated with improving the physical security of K-12 school buildings, an increase of $25 million over current year funding.

Maintenance

$173.9 million for public charter school maintenance $50 million for public school maintenance $37.2 million for Florida College maintenance $49.3 million for State University maintenance $7 million for lab school maintenance $5.3 million for Florida School for the Deaf and the Blind maintenance $4.9 million for public broadcasting stations to correct health and safety issues, correct building deficiencies and other project renovations

Construction

$41.3 million for Special Facility Construction projects currently under construction in Baker, Bradford, Gilchrist and Levy counties $12.8 million for construction projects at the state universities $1.7 million for construction projects at the state colleges $44 million in budget authority to the State University System to spend collected student fees on a list of student-approved facility projects