State budget shortchanges public schools By Mike Wright / citrus chronicle

Citrus County School District officials are joining with counterparts statewide in hopes of changing minds of lawmakers in the final days of the legislative session to approve more money for schools.

The Florida Association of District School Superintendents says it is “gravely concerned” about cuts in per-pupil spending proposed in the budget that lawmakers are expected to approve Monday.

Citrus County will actually receive $60,000 more in state funding, Chief Financial Officer Kenny Blocker said. However, with district enrollment climbing next year and the per-pupil allocation being cut $21.99, the district’s actual budget impact will be a loss of $300,000, Blocker said Thursday.

Compounding this loss, officials said, is that the district’s contribution to the Florida Retirement System is expected to increase by $300,000 next year.

The state Senate and Gov. Rick Scott proposed a 3 percent increase in public school spending. Instead, the budget takes on the House of Representatives’ proposed increase of under one-tenth of a percent, officials said.

Superintendent of Schools Sandra “Sam” Himmel said money for education can be found in two particular areas:

* The Best and Brightest Teacher Scholarship Program is increasing from $40 million to $214 million and will include principals. The program provides bonuses for teachers based on college-entrance exam scores. This year school principals are eligible for bonuses based on the number of teachers from their schools who qualify for bonuses.

* The Legislature has proposed a $200 million bill known as “Schools of Hope” that provides funding for charter schools to take control of public schools that have grades of D or F for two straight years.

Himmel said the superintendents association is asking legislators to reduce funding or eliminate the bonus, and for the failing schools bill to provide more money for classrooms.

Himmel said she doesn’t know what to expect with legislators only a day away from voting for the budget.

“All we can do,” she said, “is ask.”

Contact Chronicle reporter Mike Wright at 352-563-3228 or

Report Abuse

If you feel that this video content violates the Adobe Terms of Use, you may report this content by filling out this quick form.

To report a Copyright Violation, please follow Section 17 in the Terms of Use.