Restored Education Funds Fail to Make Up for Earlier Cutbacks

Judy Hartnett's picture
Thursday, March 8, 2012

Declining property taxes contributed to a $1.3 billion statewide cut to education last year, Republican Gov. Rick Scott’s first year in office. Now Scott wants to put money back into education.A walk through Northwood Elementary School in this small city shows almost at a glance the privations that tight Florida budget years have imposed on K-12 education.

There is an up-to-date science lab at Northwood waiting for customers, but there is no science specialist competent to take advantage of it. So it remains empty for much of the day.

“If funding were available, we’d have a hands-on science teacher,” says Principal Jacqueline Craig. “We have the facility, but unless the teachers bring their students over here, there’s no one to teach in this classroom.”

Science teacher isn’t the only position Craig has been unable to fill. “We had a media specialist,” she says, “then we had a media assistant. Now we have nothing.”

Declining property taxes contributed to a $1.3 billion statewide cut to education last year, Republican Gov. Rick Scott’s first year in office. Now Scott wants to put money back into education. He made headlines in December when he announced that he would reverse course and make increased education funding a priority in his second year.

“My recommended budget includes $1 billion in new state funding for education,” he said during his State of the State speech in January. “On this point, I just cannot budge.”

Scott is one of several governors, including Gary Herbert in Utah, Lincoln Chafee in Rhode Island and Dannel Malloy in Connecticut, who called for funding increases for education in their State of the State addresses this year, weeks before President Barack Obama chided governors at the White House for not adequately funding education.

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