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Politics

Budget Proposal Offers Record Funding for Florida Schools

January 27, 2015 - 6:00pm

Floridas education system is set to receive an historic $19.75 billion during the 2014-2015 fiscal year, an increase of nearly $843 million from last years budget.

Scotts newly unveiled budget proposal is set to increase per-student spending to around $7,200 per student, an increase of around $260 per student from last years budget.

Per-pupil spending will be at a record high during this years budget -- the 2014-2015 spending is a $50 increase per student from the states previous record in 2007-2008.

Increasing the states education funding is a surefire way to guarantee students across the state will be ready for the workforce in the future, according to Scott.

Investing in education is the best way to ensure our students are gaining the knowledge they need to meet the needs of tomorrow's employers, he said.

The hefty budget proposal includes $20 million to create a Rapid Response Start-up Grant program for technical centers to make sure they are offering career certificate programs that are directly linked to local workforce needs and demands.

The newly unveiled budget also prioritizes STEM degrees -- Scott is currently offering $5 million to incentivize $10,000 STEM degrees at Florida colleges. The governor has said previously he would try to secure $10 million to push schools to create programs to offer $10,000 STEM degrees for students.

The budget will also pump funding into digital learning in the classroom -- the state will spend $80 million to assist districts with their Digital Classroom plans.

Floridas Bright Futures plan would also be expanded with the new budget. The proposal includes nearly $24 million to expand the scholarship program to cover summer-term courses as well as eliminate sales tax on already pricey college textbooks.

Commissioner of Education Pam Stewart thanked the governor for his commitment to Floridas education system.

I am confident that this investment will pay off for years to come as the students who benefit from this funding will be able to contribute greatly to Florida's economy once they enter the workforce, she said.

The budget proposal also gathered praise from education officials and educators across the state.

Florida's future depends on making key investments that give students the 21st century skills necessary to become a highly qualified workforce, said State Board of Education Chairman Gary Chartrand. By increasing K-12 per-student and total funding, giving technical centers the ability to respond to the evolving workforce needs of their communities, helping districts implement Digital Classroom Plans and investing in charter school facilities, Florida is poised to remain a national leader in education and workforce development.

[Scotts] increases in per-pupil funding and total K-12 funding will help educators best prepare students for success now and in the future, said Lakeland teacher Christie Bassett, who was named 2015 Florida Teacher of the Year.

To view the full education budget proposal, click here.

Reach Tampa-based reporter Allison Nielsen by email atallison@sunshinestatenews.comor follow her on Twitter:@AllisonNielsen.

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