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Dorothy Hukill, Travis Hutson K-12 funding formula study

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A pair of Republican state senators sent a letter to President Joe Negron Tuesday asking for a study of the funding formula for Florida’s K-12 schools.

Dorothy Hukill of Port Orange and Travis Hutson of St. Augustine wrote that they see the District Cost Differential (DCD) as unfair to some school districts. That’s because the formula reduces some district allotments while increasing others, “as opposed to simply adding funds to districts that qualify for more money.”

“Since the DCD is the last component used to compute a district’s base funding, this inequity is imbedded into the very foundation of a district’s budget,” the Northeast Florida senators wrote.

The formula for each district is computed annually based on a 3-year average of the Florida Price Level Index, which compares the cost of purchasing a specific list of 100 goods and services in each county.

The DCD also adjusts funding by an “amenity factor” based on wage data that assumes that the desirability of living in an area makes employees willing to accept lower salaries.

In the 2016-17 budget year, Brevard, Flagler, St. Johns and Volusia counties, which Hukill and Hutson represent, had DCD scores of 0.99, 0.95, 0.98 and 0.96, respectively.

To compare, Lafayette County had the lowest DCD score at 0.92, while Palm Beach County had the highest at 1.03.

In the letter, the two senators asked Negron for a study to determine whether it should be kept, modified or eliminated.

“We need to take a closer look at the DCD and the way our K-12 funding formula is structured to allow more equality in school funding,” Hukill said in a press release. “Our students and our school districts need to be adequately funded so that all of our students are receiving the quality education and services they are entitled to no matter the size or location of their school district.”

Hutson added that he was “especially troubled by the growing disparity in funding between dense urban districts and more sparse suburban and rural districts.”

“The current reality of the DCD is reduced funding for poorer districts while increasing funding for richer districts and that is just not right,” he said.

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Drew Wilson covers legislative campaigns and fundraising for SaintPetersBlog and FloridaPolitics.com. While at the University of Florida, Wilson was an editor at The Independent Florida Alligator and after graduation, he moved to Los Angeles to cover business deals for The Hollywood Reporter. Before joining Extensive Enterprises, Wilson covered the state economy and Legislature for LobbyTools.

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