Putting Education Reform To The Test

A Billion-Dollar Education Budget Wishlist: Teacher Raises And New Technology

borman818 / flickr

Between new technology needed for tougher state standards and Gov. Scott's proposed teacher raises, budget writers are looking at more than $1 billion in education budget requests.

Gov. Rick Scott wants teachers to get a $2,500 raise in next year’s state budget.

But Scott’s proposal will cause some problems for state budget writers facing down other big-ticket education requests.

Chief among them is the $441.8 million the state Department of Education has requested to upgrade school technology. The upgrades are needed as part of the transition to new, tougher education standards approved by most states, known as Common Core.

The new standards include a new, computerized standardized test, so schools need the network infrastructure and computers or tablets to handle the annual testing rush.

The Florida Department of Education has also requested $309.5 million to cover the rising cost of current K-12 programs. The agency has asked for $100.5 million for state colleges.

In total, the agency’s budget request is an additional $642.9 million over the current budget ending June 30.

Lawmakers aren’t likely to give the department everything they’ve requested.

But Scott’s teacher raises and the technology upgrades the department says is required for Common Core total more than $900 million alone.

State economists estimate Florida’s budget surplus next could be as much as $437 million. The state could also have as much as $2.1 billion unspent from the current budget, though some of that money could have to cover health care and other costs.


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