Florida Leads on Education

Florida’s students, families, and teachers faced significant disruptions and challenges due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Despite the circumstances, Florida remains committed to providing the best education possible for our students, as well as a continued commitment to choice for families. Our state’s schools remain open, our teachers continue to inspire, and our students continue to learn. Governor DeSantis proclaimed 2020 the “Year of the Teacher,” and this upcoming fiscal year we remain steadfast in our commitment to Florida’s educators and the Governor’s goal of providing a world class education to all.

Several key investments include: An additional $50 million, for a total of $550 million, in funding to continue raising the minimum K-12 teacher salary to the goal of $47,500, as well as salary increases for other eligible teachers and instructional personnel. $1.4 billion in funding for early child education, including $405 million for Voluntary Pre-Kindergarten (VPK). K-12 public schools have the highest total and state funding of all time with $22.8 billion in total funding and $12.9 billion in state funding. This brings K-12 per student funding to $8,019, which exceeds the current year’s record funding by $233 per student. The Florida College System is appropriated $1.2 billion in state operating funding. The State University System is appropriated $2.7 billion in state operating funding.

Voluntary Pre-Kindergarten (VPK)

The budget provides a total of more than $405 million for Florida’s VPK program; a quality, free education initiative, which serves more than 157,000 four and five-year olds. VPK prepares each child for kindergarten by focusing on developing early literary skills and building a strong foundation for school.

School Readiness

The budget includes $100 million in federal funds to maintain the provider rate increases provided to early learning coalitions in Fiscal Year 2020-21.

In addition, the following initiatives that support early learning are included: T.E.A.C.H. – $10 million for early childhood teacher scholarships; Help Me Grow – $1.8 million to connect children and families with information, resources and developmental services to enhance health, behavior and learning in the development of young children; Teacher Training – $3 million for statewide professional development to improve childcare instructor quality; Home Instruction Program for Preschool Youngsters (HIPPY) – $3.9 million to deliver high-quality School Readiness curriculum directly to parents so they may strengthen the cognitive and early literacy skills of at-risk children.

In addition to the funding provided through the state budget for early learning, $223.6 million from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act and over $624 million from the Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriation (CRRSA) Act were provided to ensure access to childcare and early education services during the pandemic.

K-12 Public Education

The budget invests a record $22.8 billion in total funding for the Florida Education Finance Program (FEFP). This is a per student funding amount of $8,019, an increase of $233 per student. The base student allocation grows by $132 per student.

To achieve the $22.8 billion in total funding, the budget includes $12.9 billion in state funding and $9.9 billion in local funding. In total, the budget includes an increase of $285.5 million in the FEFP, of which $217.1 million is local funding.

Highlights of the FEFP increases include: $132 increase in the Base Student Allocation (BSA); $10 million increase, for a total of $110 million for mental health initiatives; $50 million increase, for a total of $550 million, to continue increasing the minimum teacher salary for full-time public classroom teachers and to raise the salaries of other eligible teachers and instructional personnel. $43.5 million to establish the Title I School Recognition Program to provide financial awards to Title I schools based on their student performance.

In addition to the funding provided through the state budget, school districts received over $693 million from the CARES Act and over $2.8 billion from the CRRSA Act. These funds are available for districts to utilize to ensure educational continuity for students and teachers.

School Safety

The Governor is committed to ensuring Florida’s students and teachers are in a safe and secure learning environment. The budget includes funding for the following school safety initiatives: $180 million in recurring funding for the safe schools component of the FEFP. $1 million in recurring funding for screening-related and training-related costs and to provide stipends of $500 to school guardians who participate in the Coach Aaron Feis Guardian Program. $5.5 million in recurring funding to continue the Youth Mental Health Awareness and Assistance Training. $640,000 in recurring funding for the Florida Safe Schools Assessment Tool. The tool is used to assist school officials with identifying threats, vulnerabilities and appropriate safety controls. $3 million in recurring funding to continue providing a centralized integrated data repository and data analytics resources to improve access to timely, complete and accurate information integrating data from: social media; Department of Children and Families; the Department of Law Enforcement; the Department of Juvenile Justice; and local law enforcement. $42 million in funding for school safety grants. $6.4 million in recurring funding for school districts to continue to implement a mobile panic alert system that is capable of connecting multiple first responder agencies.

Protecting Florida’s Jewish Day Schools

To continue to address safety concerns for Florida’s Jewish communities, Governor DeSantis recommends $2.5 million in funding for additional security to ensure children at Florida’s Jewish Day Schools can learn and thrive in a safe environment. This funding will help provide security and counter-terrorism upgrades such as video cameras, fences, bullet-proof glass, alarm systems and other safety equipment.

Promoting Computer Science

The budget maintains $10 million to get teachers certified to teach computer science courses, and to provide bonuses to teachers who hold educator certificates or industry certifications in computer science.

Higher Education

In higher education, Florida boasts five of the Top 100 public universities in the country, including one in the Top 10, and another in the Top 20, while maintaining the second lowest tuition in the country for public four-year institutions. The most recent U.S. News and World Report has ranked Florida’s higher education system the best in the nation for three consecutive years.

The budget invests a total of $1.2 billion in state operating funding for Florida’s colleges and a total of $2.7 billion for Florida’s universities.

The budget establishes the Florida Postsecondary Academic Library Network to provide essential services for libraries and virtual learning resources for institutions. This initiative invests $9 million to the Florida College System and $11.8 million to the State University System.

In addition to the funding provided through the state budget, Florida’s higher education institutions received over $873.9 million from the CARES Act and $1.26 billion from the CRRSA Act. These funds are available to Florida’s public state colleges and universities, eligible private institutions, and eligible technical colleges and centers to utilize to ensure educational continuity for students and teachers.

Holding the Line on Tuition

The budget prohibits tuition increases for Florida’s colleges and universities. It is imperative for students and families to not face any additional burdens during these difficult times.

Performance Funding

The budget maintains the following performance funding at career technical centers, state colleges, and state universities: $6.5 million for students earning industry certifications in high-skill, high-demand areas at career technical centers; $14 million for students earning industry certifications in high-skill, high-demand areas at Florida colleges; $30 million in performance funding for state colleges through the 2+2 Student Success Incentive Fund and the Work Florida Student Success Incentive Fund; and $560 million in performance funding for state universities.

Workforce Initiatives

The budget includes nearly $510 million in state and federal funding to support workforce education programs to ensure Florida students are prepared to fill high-demand, high-wage jobs.

This includes maintaining $10 million for the Governor’s Pathways to Career Opportunities Grant Program to establish or expand pre-apprenticeship and apprenticeship programs for high school and college students.

In addition to the funding provided through the state budget, the following workforce initiatives received funding from the CARES Act: $35 million for Rapid Credentials to enroll and complete students in in-demand, high-value, short term career and technical education credentialing programs. $11 million for infrastructure and equipment grants for K-12 schools or technical colleges to support in-demand Career and Technical Education (CTE) programs of study for K-12 students.

Historically Black Colleges and Universities

The budget includes $119 million for Florida’s Historically Black Colleges and Universities: $16.96 million in operating funds to Bethune-Cookman University. $7.4 million in operating funds Edward Waters College. $7 million in operating funds to Florida Memorial University. $87.7 million in operating funds to Florida A&M University.

Education Infrastructure

The budget includes more than $318.5 million in education capital outlay funding:

School Safety Grants

$42 million for school safety grants is provided to school districts to assist with costs associated with improving the physical security of K-12 school buildings.

Maintenance

$180 million for public charter school maintenance, funding the necessary infrastructure for public charter schools without utilizing any local funds from school districts. $7.7 million for lab school maintenance. $2.7 million for the Florida School for the Deaf and the Blind maintenance. $6 million for public broadcasting stations to correct health and safety issues and building deficiencies, and to complete renovations at public broadcasting stations.

Construction

$34.1 million for three Special Facility Construction projects, which funds critical infrastructure needs in Baker, Bradford, and Levy counties. $46 million in budget authority to the State University System to spend collected student fees on a list of student-approved facility projects.