(August 23, 2019)
FEA calls for $22 billion, multi-year investment in schools
TALLAHASSEE — After 20 years of neglect and bad policy, the Florida Education Association (FEA) is calling for a "Decade of Progress" for Florida’s public schools. This means a multi-year commitment of $22 billion for our public school students.
“We are in an education crisis in this state,” said FEA President Fedrick Ingram. “Our children are paying the price for more than two decades of underfunding and poor policy decisions. We have a severe teacher shortage, and about 300,000 students started school this year without a permanent, qualified teacher. This situation has to change. Lawmakers must fund our future.”
Floridians want a world-class education for our students. In counties throughout the state, local voters have demonstrated their support for improved education funding in local referendums for their neighborhood public schools. With this state-level investment over the next 10 years, Florida will rank in the top 10 in the nation in per-student funding and educator salaries.
The FEA is calling for an investment of $2.4 billion in the 2020 legislative session, representing a 10 percent increase in per-student funding. This investment would increase per-student funding by $767, of which at least $614 must go to the base student allocation (BSA) — the flexible money under local control.
Our students deserve an investment that allows districts to give them the support they need to learn and grow. A substantial investment will enable districts to restore funding for programs such as music, art and physical education, and to hire school counselors, psychologists and social workers. It would allow for an across-the-board pay increase of 10 percent for every public school employee in Florida, improving districts’ ability to recruit and retain teachers and staff.
With continued investment over a 10-year period, our schools will climb out of the basement of the national rankings. Florida now sits among the bottom 10 states nationally in per-student funding and in pay for our teachers and support staff — teacher’s aides, bus drivers, food-service workers, custodians, office staff and other employees essential to our schools.