Florida

Putting Education Reform To The Test

Gov. Rick Scott: Fund School Reforms With Savings

Gov. Rick Scott has launched an August Charm Offensive, serving doughnuts to voters and attempting to build a relationship with state media. Scott stopped by WUSF radio in Tampa Friday as part of his three-day visit to the city.

Scott touched on the economy, the state budget and other issues, but was also asked how schools can add state-mandated programs such as teacher pay-for-performance if the state will not fund them? Scott’s answer: Find a way.

“We’ve got to figure out how to do better,” Scott said. “We did the things that should help our kids.

“We spend the money on instruction, not administration. That’s where the focus has to be.”

School districts addressed this issue Tuesday at a special state Board of Education budget summit.

How administrative costs are calculated varies — board member Akshay Desai wants to create an official calculation — but school districts at Tuesday’s meeting claimed administrative expenses well under 10 percent of their budget.

Districts outlined a number of ways they have cut costs, including squeezing recession-desperate businesses for larger discounts on district contracts.

Hillsborough Superintendent MaryEllen Elia said her district has cut or redirected $170 million in administrative costs since 2007, but that per student funding has declined by $1,000. Hillsborough can not fund reform efforts with administrative savings, Elia said, because the district is trying to keep its head above water.

“Money saved is being used to cover costs and not innovate,” Elia said.

Teachers are typically a district’s largest expense. The estimated cost of merit pay plans varies, but the Hillsborough Classroom Teachers Association said this week they believe that total teacher salaries would increase by more than 30 percent under the program they are currently developing with a Gates Foundation grant. Other state districts are using a federal Race To The Top grant to develop merit pay plans.

Comments

  • Anonymous

    Without a salary step increase, teachers are working in an atmosphere of uncertainty. NO private sector employee works in such a degraded way.

    • Kate in Pasco

      Annette,
      I am definately not a fan of Mr. Scott or the Tea Party, etc. However, you are incorrect. Private Sector employees work in an atmosphere of uncertainty all the time. What makes you think they don’t?? In 2009 my husband took a cut in pay far worse than 4%- try 50%. We survived but it was not easy. And he is a skilled, professional level person who just happened to be in a field that was directly effected by the economy.

  • Marilyn Good

    Why didn’t anyone address the governor as to why he cut funding for public radio? I cannot believe Scott has the arrogance to even appear at this public radio station after cutting funding for it. Why did not public radio make a statement by refusing to allow Scott to appear? That would have spoken volumes.

    • http://dannyksrq.myopenid.com/ DannyK

      That would have justified the cuts.

  • http://dannyksrq.myopenid.com/ DannyK

    The government is not like a family. Comparing a family having to tighten their belts due to the economy to the State of Florida shows out out of touch Rick Scott is with the role of government.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1183143237 Phil Ryan

    Typical tea party republican…… clueless. Get rid of bad teachers sounds like a really good bumper sticker slogan. What he doesn’t address is that nine times out of ten, it is lack of funding and lack of parental involvement in a child’s life that is a better predictor of success or failure. Merit pay only ensures that bonuses will go to “performing” schools…. that means schools who don’t struggle with children from lower income family. It the tea party notion of oh, these kids don’t do well because of the teacher. Which is hogwash. Many teachers dig into their own wallets to pay for supplies at poorer schools. And Scott’s solution? Kick em in the teeth and call them bad teachers.

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