Gov. Rick Scott issued a record amount of budget vetoes Tuesday, including many education projects.
Gov. Rick Scott’s budget veto list broke records Tuesday, and education projects weren’t spared despite Scott’s emphasis on K-12 funding this year.
In total, Scott vetoed $461.4 million from the now $78.7 billion spending plan. Scott signed the plan in private Tuesday and the budget takes effect July 1.
Among the largest items Scott trimmed was $15 million for the University of Central Florida to build a campus in downtown Orlando. Many of the education cuts were for new campus buildings or renovations: $8 million to renovate Norman Hall at the University of Florida; $5 million to buy land for Florida International University; $3 million to treat mold at FIU; $3 million for a new southern campus for Hillsborough Community College.
Scott also eliminated money for programs K-12 school districts rely on, such as $1.5 million for Teach for America. Teach for America plucks recent college grads from campus and runs them through a boot camp training program. Critics say TFA provides inadequate training, but Miami-Dade and other large Florida districts rely on TFA to bolster their teacher roster.
Eight times Brandon Lewis has taken Florida’s Algebra I end-of-course exam. And eight times he’s failed it, once coming just two points short of passing.
Lewis is a junior at Miami’s Dr. Michael M. Krop High School. Lewis passed the class his first year, but Florida also requires that students pass a state exam in a handful of key courses, including Algebra I. He’s worried the test will keep him from graduating.
“It hurts when you’re isolated from the other group of kids,” Lewis says, “and you feel like you’re slow and that you can’t do anything to, like, pass that test.”
Superintendent Alberto Carvalho says vaccinations work and the district is tracking whether students get their required shots. Carvalho says 98 percent of Miami-Dade students have been vaccinated or are getting the shots now.
“We’ve seen recently what the outbreak of measles in Arizona can do to a community,” Carvalho says. “That can not be the case in Miami. So we are diligent in ensuring our children are properly immunized prior to beginning their school year.”
That includes 1,200 students new to the district this year, many escaping dangerous communities in Central America.
A parent asked us on Facebook: “Please find out for us parents of third graders, who face mandatory retention if they fail the new reading assessment this spring, how the state plans to deal with them. Will they return to 3rd grade after the cut scores are determined in Winter 2015?”
The bottom line: third graders can still be held back next year if they score the equivalent of a 1, out of 5, on the reading test. But those students are still eligible to to advance to fourth grade through one of state’s exemptions, including a portfolio or passing an alternative exam.
The math, reading and writing exam (reading and writing are combined as English language arts) is intended to measure how well students in third through eleventh grades understand Florida’s Common Core-based standards. The standards outline what students should know at the end of each grade.
We’ve pulled together the most important things to know about the new exam in this presentation. Click on the right or left side of the slide to advance or go back.