fbpx

Shut down UCF?

The idea to shut down the University of Central Florida – the state’s largest public university with more than 68,000 students – was floated during the Higher Education Appropriations Subcommittee meeting by committee chair Rep. Randy Fine (R-Palm Bay).  Fine’s comments were in response to the UCF’s use of nearly $38 million in operating funds for a building construction project, he was “working on a five or 10-year shutdown of the university.”

UCF’s former administration erred in spending operating funds on construction, which is restricted by state law ⎯ but there is more to this story and part of it lies with the continued underfunding of public education and construction funding not keeping up with need.

Public Education Capital Outlay funds (aka PECO) are dedicated to construction and maintenance projects for public schools. PECO is funded by taxes we pay on utilities including electricity, telecommunications and cable. Over the years as telecommunication tax collections has fallen along with the decrease in the number of land line phones, and other factors.  

The bottom line is university and college administrators are faced with the dilemma of aging facilities and the lack of available construction funds while legislators continue to ignore the funding needs of our schools, colleges and universities.

Certainly, UCF officials did not adhere to the law and they will feel the repercussions of that decision. But they are not the only ones between a rock and a hard place in this funding quandary. The University of South Florida has admitted to misappropriating some operating funds for building and construction projects as well.

But none of this excuses Chair Fine’s reckless proposal to close the school which would disenfranchise the students and employees one of the largest universities in the country.

UFF leads fight for intellectual freedom

University of Florida students and faculty gather Nov. 12, 2021, to advocate for free speech and academic freedom. The United Faculty of Florida, FEA’s higher education affiliate, has stepped forward…

Read more about UFF leads fight for intellectual freedom

Celebrating American Education Week

Neighborhood public schools are a vital part of our communities, and about 90 percent of Florida’s students are educated in public schools. Join us in celebrating public education and all…

Read more about Celebrating American Education Week

Op-ed: Curing Covid wouldn’t fix teacher, staff shortages

The reports of severe staffing shortages in our schools keep coming. In districts throughout the state, there aren’t enough people to teach, transport, feed and otherwise care for Florida’s students.…

Read more about Op-ed: Curing Covid wouldn’t fix teacher, staff shortages

New numbers make clear the severity of staff shortages in our schools

As senators may take up a bill Tuesday that would help get more support staff working in our schools, a new count of advertised vacancies makes clear just how desperate…

Read more about New numbers make clear the severity of staff shortages in our schools

Governor’s education plan falls short — all of Florida’s children deserve strong public schools

As we enter a third pandemic year, Florida’s public schools are facing a significant crisis. Every student has been affected by disruptions related to Covid. Second-graders have never experienced a…

Read more about Governor’s education plan falls short — all of Florida’s children deserve strong public schools

FEA: We look forward to finding solutions that truly meet students’ needs

As Gov. DeSantis releases his state budget recommendations for 2022-2023, the Florida Education Association (FEA) is looking ahead to the legislative session and what needs to happen for our students,…

Read more about FEA: We look forward to finding solutions that truly meet students’ needs