Florida Department of Education staff told the State Board of Education the agency overestimated the amount of money needed to upgrade school technology next year by $342 million.
The agency based its request on a dated school district survey from 2011, and districts have upgraded their bandwidth and available computers since then. In addition, the groups designing new online standardized tests said school districts would need fewer computers or tablets than expected.
Instead of the $442 million the agency requested in the budget beginning July 1, agency staff now believes $100 million will be sufficient. Agency staff said they will ask for more money next year, and so were also spreading the initial request over two years.
The change did not please State Board of Education members, who have been concerned lawmakers were not treating the agency’s request with enough urgency.
“Our (Legislative Budget Request) was $400 and whatever million dollars and we’re now changing that to $100 million dollars,” said board member Kathleen Shanahan. “I understand new data and we correct stuff…but that is an egregious miss. And it’s embarrassing.”
Board members worried the error meant lawmakers might doubt the agency’s next request.
“They will say ‘They always ask for too much money ,’” said board member Sally Bradshaw.