From 2007-08 through 2011-12, the St. Johns County School District saw its amount of funds per student decreased by the Legislature. When budget reductions occur, the District still remains responsible for managing student growth, maintaining constitutional class-size requirements, opening new schools and most recently implementing a new teacher evaluation system.
For example, the total funds per-student in 2007-08 were $7,202.43 and in 2016-17, the total funds per student are $7,008.92. The 2016-17 funding is still $193.51 lower than what was funded by the FEFP formula in 2007-08. To put that into perspective, if we were funded in 2016-17 at the same level as 2007-08, the District would receive approximately $10.4 million in additional revenue that could be used for school operations.
Although the 2016 Legislature increased funding for St. Johns County schools by $10.4 million, the financial and economic pressures still facing the District are tremendous. Due to several years’ worth of declining property value and the legislatively reduced millage, revenues for the Local Capital Improvement Funds have declined significantly.
Transfers to the General Fund from Capital for the maintenance of our schools are now in jeopardy.
As this year’s Operating Budget will total approximately $315 million, Florida continues to be in the lowest tiers in terms of per-student funding for operational needs when compared to other states. As previously mentioned, the funding did increase for 2016-17; however, the state has a long way to go to restore Florida K-12 funding to the 2007-08 level.
The District’s revenue and expenditure budgets have changed significantly since July 2015. Highlights are as follows:
- State & local funding has increased by approximately $10,412,142.
- Per student funding for 2016-17 is $7,008.92, which remains well below the 2007-08 per student funding of $7,202.43.
- Student population for 2016-17 is projected to grow by 3.4 percent, or 1,227 students.
- As a result of the lack of state funding, loss of the stimulus funding, continued student growth and other downward pressures on the budget, the District is forced to use approximately $17.8 million from its fund balance to sustain school operations during 2016-17.
- The 2016-17 budget will provide 37 additional instructional staff units.
- Other pressures on the District’s operating budget include the proper funding mechanisms and related plan designs for its self-insured medical plan, the funding of the teacher performance pay system and the continued funding of the digital learning initiative, as well as the continued staffing changes necessary to maintain support of teaching and learning in our schools.
- In addition, as of July 1, 2016, the District will now be responsible for the operations of the First Coast Technical College as its Board of Directors surrendered the school’s charter effective midnight June 30, 2016. The overall financial impact of this new responsibility has yet to be fully determined at this juncture, however, staff will continue to assess and examine the fiscal impact over the coming months.
If the District does not see an improvement in per-student funding in the future, it will be necessary to once again reduce operating and capital expenditure budgets so there is not an emergency when our fund balance has been exhausted.
In closing, past performance is a good predictor of future performance. To review our past financial performance and read detailed information about our financial activity, please visit our Financial Transparency web page.