Gov. Crist Tells Education Commissioner to Plan for Less in Next Budget

Governor Crist’s budget director sent a memo this week to all agency chiefs, including Education Commissioner Eric Smith, because budget requests were due on Thursday October 15th.  The memo reminds them that the state faces a $2.6 billion deficit for critical needs next year.  It then goes on to state “we anticipate no requested increases in agencies’ budgets as well as a full slate of reduction options.”

The Florida Board of Education had already submitted its budget asking for an 8% increase in funding and has not revised its request per the memo.  Let me remind you- the board consists of Crist’s own Republican appointees.  They have drafted a letter to the Florida legislature demanding better funding for education.  Our sources tell us that the letter has been written and at least 5 board members have co-signed it.  However, the Orlando Sentinel reports that the letter hasn’t been drawn up yet.

The budget request was also submitted with documents outlining how the Department of Education would make cuts of up to 10% if required to do so.  The Orlando Sentinel’s Leslie Postal blogs:

Though the first priority would be to cut administration, the 40-page document shows the department thinks cuts of 10 percent would hurt all sorts of educational services in the state.

The big three:

–community colleges (whose enrollment increased by about 22,500 this past year) would offer few courses, run bigger classes and cut faculty.

— public schools could end up with about $194 less per student, which would mean cuts to teacher rolls and programs. Complying with the state’s class-size rules would also be in jeopardy.

— the state’s Voluntary Pre-kindergarten program would get $242 less for each 4-year-old enrolled, hurting the quality of that program.

Of course, it is very early in the budget process and much will change between now and the Florida Legislature’s adoption of a final spending plan for the 2010-11 school year.

Florida already ranks near the bottom of all states for education funding.  Our per pupil amount is nearly $4,000 less than the national average.  How can our children afford any less?

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Author: fundeducationnow

Fund Education Now.org is permanent grass roots, non-partisan group created by parents to inspire and empower voters to advocate on behalf of Florida's children. We believe that Florida's public education crisis is about more than money. Parents, long silent on this subject, must now stand up and lead the discussion and clearly articulate what we, the end-users of public education, want and expect for our kids and our state.

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