The Florida House has released its proposed budget for the fiscal year beginning July 1.
Speaker Will Weatherford says education was prioritized over everything else.
“The big winner is education,” Weatherford said. “We invested over a billion dollars into our K-12 education system from last year.”
He said that amounts to a 6.2 percent increase in overall education funding.
Weatherford said they created “a silo of funds” to be funneled down to the districts, including up to $676 million available for teacher pay.
The way the money is spent will be collectively bargained between the local districts and the union.
“They can spend as much of that on salaries as they want or as little,” Weatherford said. “The reason why we like that is because it creates flexibility for the district.”
He hopes that at least half of whatever is set aside for teacher salaries will be merit-based.
“We believe that merit pay should be a strong component of education funding at the local level,” Weatherford said.
The Senate’s proposed budget also includes a boost for teachers in the form of performance pay.
Districts are required to transition to a performance funding model starting in July 2014 as part of the Student Success Act of 2011.
From the House education budget proposal:
- Out of a total recommended spending plan of $74.4 billion, education gets $20.2 billion.
- The PreK-12 budget totals $13.7 billion.
- Per student funding is $6,781.61, an increase over last year of $394.86.
- The university system is getting back the $300 million that was cut last year, plus an additional $65 million for performance based pay.
“I’ll give the governor credit,” Weatherford said. “He challenged the Legislature to prioritize education. We’ve done that.”
See more budget numbers in the documents below.