Local Superintendents Argue Schoolchildren Face Funding Discrimination

What to Know

  • Local superintendents arguer that children in Florida's largest school districts face funding discrimination.
  • The amount of funding each district receives is tied to property taxes.

Schoolchildren in Broward County and Miami-Dade County are facing funding discrimination following legislative action in Tallahassee, according to county superintendents.

Broward County Public Schools Superintendent Robert Runcie and Miami-Dade County Public Schools Superintendent Alberto Carvalho cite the combination of Florida's recently approved state budget and the passage of two bills as the basis for the funding disparity.

The original state budget called for a 47-cent per pupil increase this year. However, two education-related bills that passed, H.B. 7055 and the Marjory Stoneman Douglas School Safety Act, added millions more, but that funding is tied to measures such as adding more school resource officers, counselors and making schools safer. Those additional funds cannot be used to bolster school programs for students, to raise teacher salaries or to hire more teachers.

The amount each district receives is tied to property taxes, and the local superintendents argue that the effect it creates is discrimination against children in Florida's largest school districts.

In one example under the new budget, Franklin County, which is in the Florida Panhandle, receives more than a $300 increase per student, while Miami-Dade County receives a $65 increase and Broward County gets a $52 increase – which ranks the South Florida districts 65th and 66th, respectively, out of the state's 67 counties, despite those two counties providing much more to the state in tax dollars than they receive back in services.

"The largest urban districts with the highest cost of living are receiving the lowest amount of funding – negative $16 per student, compared to where we were last year," Runcie said.

Both superintendents said they're grateful for the positive elements of the school safety act, such as more mental health counselors, but both districts will now receive less money per pupil than last year because of the state formula for funding allocation.

"South Florida's kids should not be getting education at a discount rate of 35 percent – that's exactly what we're facing," Carvahlo said.

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