A look behind the state’s allegation of a per-student funding increase for Flagler reveals the line-item fine print of deceptions, slippery definitions and unfunded mandates, resulting in a deficit, not an increase.
Flagler is the 6th-highest taxed district in the state, by legislative formula, yet gets back the 65th lowest dollars per student. A governor proposal to increase education funding could make that worse for the district.
The Flagler school district is now 64th out of 67 in per-pupil funding, and the bill Gov. Scott signed today will force the district to turn over more money to charter schools.
Despite some confusion about budget numbers described as a “moving target,” the Flagler school board was spending a day-long workshop to find some $1.7 million in cuts, many of them affecting educational programs directly.
The Flagler school district is looking at next fall’s budget from a $1.4 million deficit despite a substantial increase in state dollars, because the state’s new revenue is attached with so many strings as to strangle the school district. Meanwhile, board members are looking to convince voters that a new property tax is necessary for needs beyond that deficit.
A report in the papers this morning that the Flagler school district was facing an additional $3.8 million cut (or 4 percent of its budget) was premature. The state is cutting the local school tax and its revenue, but making up all the difference except $400,000, which the district has already plugged.
As state lawmakers cut school budgets by $1.3 billion, the Flagler school district already has plans to cut its budget by 3.5 percent through teacher layoffs and other means. It’ll make up the difference by using more than a third of its $9 million reserves.
School Superintendent Janet Valentine says many options are on the table as Gov. Rick Scott’s proposed budget cuts force additional reductions on top of the $7.5 million the district has cut since 2007.