HOUSE MOVES CLOSER TO SENATE BUDGET (BUT READ THE FINE PRINT)
Early versions of Senate and House budgets are coming together in various forms. Both approaches appear to hold FY10 allocations at a level more or less comparable to the current (and oft-reduced) per-student allocation. Closer investigation, however, reveals that these figures include budget items not previously counted in per-student funding formulae. Many other programs and activities normally outside of such formulas are cut sharply in both proposals. As reported last week, while there is some proposed budget flexibility in some areas, there also many new restrictions on spending in other areas. Both budget approaches assume that federal stimulus funding will be available, and both budgets make generous assumptions about proceeds from massive increases in gambling compact, and increased revenues from "user fees." The Senate seems ready to approve considerable increases in taxes on tobacco, but the House seems less so.
Two primary documents related to the budget proposals are provided below, but keep in mind that several other bills will eventually be incorporated, so expect changes in the near term. Analysis of these budget proposals in their current disaggregated form is extremely complicated, so take your time going over them, and take a grain of salt as well.
House Education Appropriations Committee Staff Analysis of PCB PAC 09-01
Senate Education Appropriations Committee Staff Analysis of CS/SB 1676
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EDUCATION LEADERS SUPPORT GOVERNOR'S GAMBLING COMPACT WITH SEMINOLE TRIBE
Both the Florida Schools Boards Association and the Florida Association of District School Superintendents affirmed their support this morning for the Governor's proposed gambling compact with the Seminole Tribe of Florida. The House and the Senate have each included estimated revenues from a compact in their budget proposals, but there are varying estimates about how much revenue could be generated and differences in specifics about what games might be permitted in the tribe's Hard Rock casinos.
St. Petersburg Times http://blogs.tampabay.com/buzz/2009/04/education-leaders-endorse-compact.html#more
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TOUGHER GRADUATION REQUIREMENTS APPROVED AGAIN
After three solid hours of debate, the House Full Appropriations Council on Education & Economic Development approved HB 1293 on Monday. This was the third and final critical committee vote in support of the measure, so it now will go the House floor for a vote.
The bill would require college-preparatory courses for all high school graduates, including one credit each in Algebra I, Geometry, Algebra II; Biology 1, Chemistry 1, and one other higher-level science course. The bill would also require a score of Level 3 or higher in 10th Grade FCAT mathematics and 10th Grade FCAT reading.
Although the increase from the current FCAT cut-off score to the proposed Level 3 is not numerically large, it will cause an immediate and significant increase in students at risk of not graduating. The House Committee staff noted that 58% of students statewide failed on their first attempt to achieve the current cutoff level in 10th Grade FCAT reading last year. If these same students had been held to the proposed new Level 3 cutoff, the failure rate would have instead been 89%.
This bill was supported heavily by the Foundation for Florida's Future (headed by former governor Jeb Bush), the Florida Chamber of Commerce, and Associated Industries of Florida.
House Education Committee Staff Analysis
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DOING THE WAIVE
Florida remains ineligible to receive the first wave of stimulus funding under ARRA because of the sharp decline in education funding over the past several years, but has been ready to apply for a waiver that would allow the state to receive an anticipated $2.7 billion in state fiscal stabilzation funds. These ARRA funds are separate from other increases in Title I, IDEA, and Pell grants. The Governor has repeatedly expressed his belief that Florida's waiver will be approved, and both the House and the Senate have included anticipated stimulus funds in their budget proposals for next year.
However, the actual mechanism for requesting the waiver is still not available. Although the application itself has been released, the necessary guidelines for completing it won't be available for about two more weeks. The Secretary has promised a "quick turnaround" when the waiver request is eventually submitted.
On Tuesday, the Secretary sent a "Dear Governor" letter to all 50 states outlining the basic data collection, analysis, and reporting requirements for the second wave of funding that will be made available under ARRA. The general consensus seems to be that Florida is probably better situated to meet these requirements than some other states, since its existing data system is quite extensive.
U.S. Department of Education http://www.ed.gov/programs/statestabilization/2009-394-cover.pdf
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SECRETARY REVERSES RECENT CHANGES TO TITLE I REGULATIONS.
In a detailed letter to chief state school superintendents, the Secretary reversed some critical Title I regulations implemented late last year. This will reduce the need to make changes in most state and local programs during difficult economic times. Notably, the Secretary will repeal of the requirement that a State revise its Accountability Workbook provisions regarding AYP. He also intends to amend or repeal a 2002 regulatory provision prohibiting a State from approving districts and schools identified for improvement to be SES providers.
U.S. Department of Education http://www.ed.gov/policy/elsec/guid/secletter/090401.html
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STATE WINS GRANT TO EXPAND ONLINE DATA TOOLS
For the second time, Florida was awarded a multimillion dollar data system development grant. The state will use the 2.45 million award to expand a data governance structures to enhance Federal reporting and reliable research. An innovative new research and analysis tool will allows researchers with approved proposals to intuitively navigate the site and pull data fields appropriate to their research proposals.
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