House education budget pumps up spending, tuitionby John Kennedy | March 27th, 2013
The Florida House would increase school spending by $395 per-pupil next year while also allowing Florida colleges and universities to boost tuition by 6 percent, under an education budget released Wednesday.
Education Budget chairman Erik Fresen, R-Miami, said the spending plan is also likely to include $2,500 teacher pay raises — a priority of Gov. Rick Scott. Details are still being worked out.
“Right now, we are exceeding it,” Fresen said of the pay-raise effort.
But there are clear areas of friction.
Scott has recommended a $412-per-pupil increase — bringing spending to $6,800 for each of Florida’s 2.7 million students. That’s edging closer to the state’s high-water mark, $7,126 reached during the pre-recession 2006-07 school year.
Scott also reiterated his opposition Tuesday to tuition increases.
“I’m against tuition increases. This is a tax, this is a tax on students, it is a tax on families. We can’t be raising the cost of getting a higher education in this state,” Scott said.
Among the more controversial provisions of the House budget is what Fresen called a recalibration of the state’s school funding formula. The rewrite changes how students taking online classes are calculated — a move which supporters of Florida Virtual School — condemed Wednesday.
Florida Virtual School is the nation’s largest K-12 online system. It’s been used by many students to take a seventh class — above the standard six offered by many school districts — and in rural counties where online students can access classes not available in classrooms, supporters said.
Vern Pickup-Crawford, lobbyist for the Palm Beach County School Board, said the revamped formula would likely cost the county about $5 million.