Making Florida First in Education

If Florida is going to be first in job creation, the state must have the most skilled workforce in the world. This is why making Florida first for education is a top priority. The Florida First budget invests in Florida’s education system to attract more businesses to Florida and help diversify the economy. Historic amounts of funding in K-12 education, state colleges and universities will ensure every student has the opportunity to succeed and gain the skills they need for a great job. The Florida First budget also prioritizes investments in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) fields so students are prepared for jobs in high-demand areas.

Historic Areas of Funding Funding Amount
K-12 Public Schools Total Funding $20.21 billion
K-12 Public Schools State Funding $11.01 billion
K-12 Public Schools Per-Student Funding $7,221/student
Florida College System Total Funding $2.03 billion
Florida College System State Operating Funding $1.20 billion
State University System Total Funding $4.62 billion
State University System State Operating Funding $3.97 billion

Florida’s teachers and students achieved many great things over the last year, but more work must be done to ensure Florida’s education system is first in the nation:

Excellence in K-12 Public SchoolsEducation

  • Florida ranks first in digital learning, according to Digital Learning Now’s Digital Learning Report Card;
  • Florida’s graduation rates are at an 11-year high – increasing nearly 17 percentage points since 2003-2004;
  • The National Council on Teacher Quality has twice ranked Florida’s teacher quality policies best in the nation;
  • Florida is top in the nation for elevating the teaching profession according to StudentsFirst;
  • Florida is 2nd in the nation in Advanced Placement (AP) exam participation for the 2014 graduating class and 3rd in the nation for their performance;
  • According to the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP):
  • Florida’s 4th grade students outperform the nation in both reading and math;
  • Florida’s 4th grade Hispanic students led the nation in reading;
  • Florida’s 4th grade Hispanic students average score ranked second in the nation in math;
  • In 4th grade reading and mathematics, Florida’s students with disabilities’ average score ranked second in the nation.

Excellence in the Florida College SystemState College

  • Santa Fe College was named the nation’s top college in 2015 when it was awarded the Aspen Prize for Community College Excellence;
  • Miami-Dade College awarded more associate degrees to minority and Hispanic students than any other college in the nation according to Community College Week 2015 Top 100;
  • Florida is the number one producer of certificates and associate degrees in the Southeast Region;
  • According to Community College Week 2015 Top 100:
  • Fourteen Florida College System institutions ranked in the top 100 colleges nationwide for the total number of associate degrees awarded;
  • Twelve Florida College System institutions placed in the top 100 colleges nationwide for the number of associate degrees awarded to minority students;
  • Eleven Florida College System institutions ranked among the top 100 colleges in the nation for the number of associate degrees awarded to African American students;
  • Nine Florida College System institutions ranked in the top 100 colleges nationwide for the number of associate degrees awarded to Hispanic students.

Excellence in the State University SystemState University

  • The State University System of Florida six-year graduation rate is ranked 1st compared to the ten largest states (for public four-year universities).
  • Florida’s preeminent universities are leading the way:
  • Business Journals ranked the University of Florida as the 7th top public college in the nation for 2015;
  • U.S. News & World Report ranked Florida State University the second most efficient high-quality university in the country for 2015.

Highest Per-Student Funding in Florida History – The Florida First budget includes the highest total funding, state funding, and per-student funding for K-12 in Florida’s history. Florida’s public education system delivers a quality education to a diverse student population of nearly 2.8 million students. With increasing graduation rates and policies that rank among the best in the nation, the Florida First Budget invests more than $11 billion in state funding for a total of $20.2 billion for Florida’s K-12 public schools, or $7,221 per student.

This historic high of $20.2 billion in total funding, is an increase of $507.3 million in state and local funds over the Fiscal Year 2015-2016 and includes:

  • $145.3 million increase to fund 25,877 new students;
  • $20 million increase, for a total of $80 million, in funding for Digital Learning Initiatives;
  • $86.8 million in funding for improving the lowest performing schools, which allows for districts to provide students an additional hour of intensive reading instruction by qualified teachers or reading specialists;
  • $16.7 million increase, for a total of $3.1 billion, in funding for class size to account for enrollment growth;
  • $3 million increase, for a total of $55.8 million, in funding for the Sparsity Supplement, which provides funding to assist rural districts with sparse student populations (24,000 or fewer students);
  • $10 million increase, for a total of $74.5 million, in funding for school safety initiatives that promote a safe learning environment; and
  • $195.5 million increase for various education initiatives included in the FEFP, including transportation, reading allocation, and instructional materials.

Early Learning – A quality education begins with a solid foundation of early learning programs for all Florida families. The Florida First budget invests in initiatives that ensure early learning providers are effective and more Florida children have access to programs. The Florida First budget invests $1.1 billion in funding for early child education and care, including:

  • Voluntary Pre-Kindergarten (VPK) – Florida is first among large states in access to VPK. The Florida First budget provides a $50 increase per student for the school year and a $43 increase per student for the summer program over Fiscal Year 2015-2016. This equates to per student funding of $2,487 per student and $2,123 per student, respectively. VPK prepares approximately 170,000 four-year olds for kindergarten, and builds a strong foundation for school and focusing on early literacy skills.
  • School Readiness – The Florida First budget invests $20.3 million to remove more than 3,500 children from the School Readiness Wait List and into childcare programs. This funding will help low-income families by providing children with quality afterschool programs while parents are at work.

STEM STEM Professional Development for Educators – The Florida First budget includes $1 million for the STEM Business Partnership Residency Program, which provides educators with an opportunity to work for participating high-tech companies in Florida during the summer break. Science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) are important focus areas for students in a competitive global economy and will help diversify Florida’s economy. The program provides a stipend to teachers while they gain hands-on experience and training with a Florida business, which enhances their subject-matter expertise and enriches their classroom teaching.

A total of 45 companies across the state have agreed to participate in the STEM professional development for educators $1 million dollar initiative, including:

AmskillsApex TechnologyArthrexAzimuth Technology
Bay State Cable TiesB&ICarlisle Interconnect TechnologiesCostal Cloud
Creative Sign DesignsD3 GlassDuke EnergyEastern Architectural Systems
EmbraerEntertainment MetalsFlorida Institute for Human and Machine CognitionFlorida Power & Light Company
Fort Walton Machining, Inc.Global Tech LEDGSC SystemsGulf Power Company
Harris CorporationHaynes CorporationHeat Pipe TechnologyHoerbiger Corporation of America, Inc.
ICTCITG TechnologiesKaman AerostructuresLockheed Martin
Marine Concepts/JRL VenturesMetal EssenceMiTek USAMonin
Northrop GrummanPharmaWorksRaytheon CompanySAFT America
Shaw DevelopmentSouthern Manufacturing TechnologiesStorm SmartStructure Medical LLC
Survice Engineering CompanyTimbar Packaging & DisplayVac-Con, Inc.Vistakon
Zimmer Biomet

Raising the Investment in the Teacher of the Year Program – The Florida First budget recommends increasing the monetary awards to Florida’s highest performing teachers through the Teacher of the Year Program. Under Governor Scott’s recommendation, the award amounts will increase to $10,000 for district participants, $15,000 for finalists, and $20,000 for the Teacher of the Year. This is an estimated increase of $9,500 for district participants, more than $9,000 for finalists, and more than $8,600 for the Teacher of the Year.

Higher Education & High-Skilled Training Programs - $6.3 Billion – Governor Scott is committed to making Florida’s higher education system first in the world. Great higher education institutions lead to a more diverse economy and skilled workforce. The Florida First budget invests historic amounts in the State College and University systems. Governor Scott is committed to making sure that Florida’s students get an affordable, high quality education so they can get a job when they graduate.

Career in a Year – In order to make Florida first for students to find jobs, the Florida First budget proposes $20 million for the Technical Center Rapid Response Grant Career in a Year program. This funding will provide the needed funds to expand and create programs that are in response to Florida’s workforce needs and provide students an opportunity to get a career in one year. Students will be able to gain skills and training in high-skilled and high-demand industries such as health care, information technology, and manufacturing.

Performance Funding – The past three years have demonstrated the positive impact performance-based funding has on Florida’s 12 state universities’ ability to provide students with a quality education. Among the ten largest states for public four-year universities, Florida has the highest graduation rate at 64.4 percent and the second highest retention rate at 86 percent. Because of performance funding over the last three years, 65 new advisors have been hired to focus on student retention and graduation, seven career service centers have been revamped to focus on student advising and establishing partnerships with local businesses, and 300 additional faculty have been hired in high-wage, high-need areas.

In an effort to replicate the successes of the State University System, the Florida First Budget provides performance funding for the following areas:

  • Early Learning - $15.5 million, an increase of $5 million, in performance funding for child care providers and instructors that demonstrate success in their student’s school readiness, professional development for teachers, and access to high-need populations.
  • K-12 District Workforce Education Programs - $6 million in performance funding for students earning industry certifications in high-skill, high-demand areas through district workforce education programs. This is an increase of $1.5 million over last year.
  • Florida College System
  • $10 million for students earning industry certifications in high-skill, high-demand areas at Florida Colleges. This is an increase of $5 million over last year;
  • $60 million in performance funding for the 28 Florida Colleges, up from $40 million last year.
  • State University System - The Florida First Budget includes a record $500 million in performance funding for state universities to continue helping students get great jobs with less debt. This is an increase of $100 million over last year.

College Affordability – Governor Scott is dedicated to ensuring that all students in Florida have affordable options to pursue a quality education that will prepare them for success in the workforce. The Governor has continuously challenged higher education institutions to reduce the cost burden to students with initiatives such as the $10,000 four-year degree at Florida’s colleges and holding the line on college and university tuition. The Florida First budget continues to make major investments to ensure higher education is accessible and affordable for Florida’s families and students including:

  • Ensuring there are NO tuition increases. Skyrocketing tuition rates make it difficult for families to plan for higher education and contribute to students leaving college with crippling debt.
  • Investing $5 million for state colleges to develop or enhance STEM bachelor’s degree programs that cost students $10,000 or less.
  • Investing $16.9 million to expand the Bright Futures Scholarship program into the summer terms. Allowing this scholarship funding to be used for summer terms means students can graduate in less time, which means less student debt.

Education InfrastructureThe Florida First budget invests $526 million in education infrastructure. In order to be first in education, students and teachers need safe and efficient facilities that foster a creative learning environment. Maintaining current education facilities is prioritized over new construction in Florida’s postsecondary institutions, as institutions should first create efficiencies by managing existing campuses. Governor Scott also continues to make investments in rural school districts that have urgent construction needs, but lack the ability to raise funds.

Maintenance Investments:

  • $75.2 million for public school maintenance;
  • $75.2 million for charter school maintenance;
  • $5.3 million for lab school maintenance;
  • $2.6 million for Florida School for the Deaf and the Blind maintenance;
  • $310,000 for Division of Blind Services maintenance;
  • $50 million for Florida College System maintenance;
  • $50 million for State University System maintenance.

Construction Investments:

  • $75.4 million for Special Facility Construction projects. This funding is for critical infrastructure needs in eight rural school districts;
  • Dixie, Washington, Levy, Calhoun, Holmes, Hamilton, Jefferson, and Taylor counties.
  • $3.8 million for charter technical centers to fund facility needs;
  • $3.1 million for Public Broadcasting projects;
  • $40 million for the Florida College System;
  • $50 million for the State University System;
  • $35 million in budget authority to the State University System to spend student fees on a list of student-approved facility projects.