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While the governor proposes a stay-the-course plan, we have a truly bold vision for Florida’s schools

TALLAHASSEE — The Florida Education Association (FEA) is calling for a truly bold vision for public education, PreK-12 through higher education. Our Decade of Progress plan would lift up all public schools and offer Florida’s students the best possible opportunities for success. The budget proposal released Monday by Gov. Ron DeSantis falls short of the investment needed to overcome more than a decade of disinvestment in public schools, and it continues the push for decisions about schools to be made by the state instead of local communities.

“The governor’s recommendations are just that, recommendations. The ultimate shape of the budget is up to Florida’s Legislature,” said FEA President Fedrick Ingram. “Last year the Legislature gave a larger increase to base student funding than the governor requested while slashing his proposed budget for teacher bonuses. This year, they should go a step further and allocate all proposed bonus money to the base student allocation (BSA).”

Where the governor is proposing an increase of about $1 billion in funding for public education, the FEA is calling for an investment of $2.4 billion as a down payment on a Decade of Progress that will move Florida into the top 10 in national rankings and truly fund this state’s future. Florida currently ranks 43rd nationally in funding for public education. Pay for our PreK-12 teachers and education staff professionals ranks among the bottom 10 states, while higher education faculty and graduate assistants face stagnating salaries.

DeSantis proposes to increase the base student allocation by $50 per student. The FEA is calling for an increase of $614 per student to the BSA, the flexible funding under the control of local school districts.

An increase of $614 in the BSA would allow for across-the-board pay increases of 10 percent for every public school employee in Florida — teachers, paraprofessionals, bus drivers, secretaries, librarians, social workers, cafeteria workers and others.

The FEA’s bold vision also includes recognizing the educators delivering high quality pre-kindergarten programs and capitalizing on the national rankings of our colleges and universities by fully supporting the academic excellence delivered by faculty and graduate assistants.

DeSantis’ budget proposal calls for a state-set salary for classroom teachers in public schools, removing pay decisions from local hands, and provides yet another iteration of Florida’s failed bonus plans. His plan completely leaves out the thousands of education staff professionals essential to students’ education.

The FEA’s proposed investment would restore electives including art, music and drama to our neighborhood public schools. It would provide additional funding for lab materials, so students don’t just read about STEM, but also can engage in it.

This investment also would ensure students have increased access to mental health services — school counselors, social workers and school psychologists would be more readily available to assist struggling students and families. And it would allow for Florida’s districts to better address struggling schools that have suffered under decades of underfunding.

 “We have been all over this state on the Fund Our Future Bus Tour to advocate for the funding and programs our students need and deserve,” said FEA President Ingram. “We plan to double-down on our advocacy with the Legislature, which will make the ultimate decision on the future of our students and schools. Lawmakers must fund our future.”

CONTACT:Joni Branch, (850) 201-3223 or (850) 544-7055

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The Florida Education Association is the state’s largest association of professional employees, with more than 145,000 members. FEA represents pre K-12 teachers, higher education faculty, educational staff professionals, students at our colleges and universities preparing to become teachers and retired education employees. 

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