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FEA president praises budget as ‘step forward’ for public schools, says further work needed

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Florida Education Association President Andy Ford hailed the newly passed $78.8 billion budget as a “step forward” in properly funding the state’s public education.

But more work is needed, he cautioned.

Florida lawmakers finished the overtime marathon session after 6 p.m. Friday after both chambers passed a budget that sat on lawmakers’ desks for 72 hours. The Senate passed the plan unanimously and the House by a 96-17 vote. The budget includes a $780 million increase for public schools.

Ford, who leads the state’s largest association of professional employees, with more than 140,000 members, released a statement this afternoon:

“The budget that legislators approved today represents a step forward for properly funding our public schools. The budget agreement provides a total in FEFP funding of $19.68 billion – an increase of $780 million over the current year. Per student funding increases to $7,097 – a boost of $207 over last year. We appreciate the funding for our early learning and post-secondary education as well. But it’s worth noting that Florida still languishes near the bottom in its investment for K-12 education when compared to other states and funding for this year is still below the per-student spending of eight years ago.

“This budget and the reduction in testing madness that we hope will result from passage of HB 7069 during the regular session are steps forward. For Florida and its public schools to continue to deliver the type of education that our accountability system demands — and to be able to deliver a valid and meaningful education for all of our students — continued investment will be necessary.

“FEA remains committed to working with lawmakers and the governor in next year’s early legislative session to improve funding and further reduce the overtesting in our schools.”

The governor normally has 15 days to sign a bill into law after receiving it but Rick Scott won’t have that leisure. The state fiscal year starts July 1 which is just 11 days away.

Phil Ammann is a St. Petersburg-based journalist and blogger. With more than three decades of writing, editing and management experience, Phil produced material for both print and online, in addition to founding HRNewsDaily.com. His broad range includes covering news, local government and culture reviews for Patch.com, technical articles and profiles for BetterRVing Magazine and advice columns for a metaphysical website, among others. Phil has served as a contributor and production manager for SaintPetersBlog since 2013. He lives in St. Pete with his wife, visual artist Margaret Juul and can be reached at phil@floridapolitics.com and on Twitter @PhilAmmann.

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