It is an honor and privilege to serve as your superintendent and there is nothing I take more seriously than the care and education of your children and young adults.
Our community is one built on collaboration and trust. This is why I feel it necessary to share my concern over the state education budget up for vote on Monday afternoon. This budget is not one filled with hope and promise for our students. This budget hurts your children and our schools by decreasing the funds that create programs for students and the funds that compensate teachers for their hard work. This budget reduces the Base Student Allocation (BSA) by $27.07 per student from $4,160.71 last year to $4,133.64 and will require us to make cuts that have the potential to impact service to students.
Collectively, we take great pride in being a top-performing district. Our strong student performance coupled with high expectations for teachers and staff is the foundation of our success.
We are dependent on funding and support from the legislature to ensure that we can continue the level of service we provide and you expect.
I urge you to make your voice heard by contacting our legislators and let them know this budget is not acceptable and that it negatively impacts your children. Visit www.stjohns.k12.fl.us/gr/ for contact information for the Governor’s office and Legislative Leadership.
Here are the facts and stats for the proposed 2017-2018 budget:
o The increase in total funds for K-12 funding statewide is $241,293,414 or 1.2%. These dollars fund an additional 23,919 students entering Florida’s public school system in the upcoming school year. When looking at additional dollars available per student, the budget provides for a mere $24.44 or less than a 1% (.34%) increase over last year’s budget.
o In Florida schools are funded on a per-student basis through a formula called the Florida Education Finance Program (FEFP).
o The FEFP is comprised of the Base Student Allocation (BSA) and pots of money called categoricals which are reserved for specific purposes such as Transportation, Instructional Materials, ESE Guaranteed Allocation (services for disabled students) and Safe Schools (funding for school resource officers).
o Any increases in funding in categoricals cannot be used for general operating expenses or to increase teacher pay.
o The BSA are the only flexible dollars school districts have access. They are used to fund teacher’s salaries and benefits or to add new programs for students.
o While St. Johns County will receive a small increase in funds in overall per student funding, all of the increase is reserved for specific purposes.
o In 2007-08, St. Johns County received $7,202.43 per student. Ten years later, St. Johns is being funded at $7,067.20 per student, a DECREASE of $135.23 per student.
o This year’s budget cuts the Base Student Allocation (BSA) $27.07 statewide from $4,160.71 last year to $4,133.64.
o In a fiscal year where the state has a budget surplus, we cannot support a budget that cuts the BSA for the first time since the great recession.
o The budget agreed upon in conference is predicated on a $535.1 million reduction in the FEFP resulting from a .316 rollback of the Required Local Effort millage or 6.7%. Outside of the FEFP, $213 million is being provided for Best and Brightest Teacher bonuses and $200 million in incentive funds to attract out-of-state charter operators (Schools of Hope).
o Even if districts are given access to some of the $200 million in charter incentive funds, St. Johns County will not receive a penny of these funds due to our academic success because they are only for persistently low-performing areas.
o If these funds were instead redirected to the FEFP, it would result in over a 2% increase in funds per student.