The League of Women Voters of Florida supports a free public school system for Florida with high standards for student achievement and with equality of educational opportunity for all that is financed adequately by the state through an equitable funding formula. The League supports a review of funding sources to provide adequate, equitable and quality education.
In 2002, the citizens of Florida voted for the class size amendment; 2010 is the final year for implementing the amendment. The Legislature did not provide the $350 million needed to implement the final phase of reducing class size but, instead, passed a joint resolution that would “allow more flexibility” in implementing the 2002 amendment. Voters rejected this constitutional amendment. In addition to placing the resolution on the ballot, the Legislature also voted to fine school districts that do not comply with the original class size amendment. However, charter schools were exempted from implementing the amendment.
In 2009, the governor favored applying for federal stimulus funds to maintain state programs. However, federal stimulus funds for education were not to be allotted to states that had not maintained school funding at 2006 levels; that meant that Florida was not eligible for these funds unless a waiver was obtained. On April 24, the Governor applied for a waiver. On May 11, Florida received the waiver. This was a fortunate occurrence since the Legislature relied heavily on these federal funds to avoid further cuts to education. The budget passed by both houses raised the amount spent per student in K-12 by $28; this was possible because the state received $900 million in federal economic stimulus money. While the $6,872 proposed for each student represented an increase, it did so only because lawmakers had cut school funding in the middle of the academic year. On average, school districts received $256 less per student for 2009-2010 than they received in 2007. The budget actually spent less on education than in any school year since 2002-2003. In fact, state funding for Florida schools has steadily declined.