How school funding works in Florida
Bottom Line: All South Florida School Districts have opted for a delayed online only education to start the school year, in direct contraction to what medical experts like CDC Director Robert Redfield have recommended. Moreover, the largest teacher's union in the state, the Florida Education Association has sued the Florida Department of Education to attempt to prevent any classroom education statewide. This comes on back of the largest pay raise for teacher’s in Florida’s history having just been passed. Aside from concerns over education outcomes for our children, this added burden for parents, during a time in which many are struggling financially, has led to numerous parents asking me about how schools are funded.
While President Trump made news when he suggested states which wouldn’t reopen schools might not be funded from the federal government, it’s not the federal government which accounts for most of the funding. Look closer to home. Most specifically your home. That’s where most of the money is coming from to fund public education in Florida. Here’s the breakdown of Florida’s education funding:
- Federal: 11%
- State: 39%
- Local: 50%
It’s important to understand this information for multiple reasons. Almost all of the money that’s going to the Florida education system is derived from Floridians and closest to home – with literally the roof over your head being the top funding source. As I recently demonstrated in an analysis of per pupil spending for students of Florida’s Virtual School, compared to classroom education, there’s an approximate savings of $450 per pupil, per month of online education. This makes the current actions by school districts which aren’t offering classroom education, in defiance of our top health experts and science, that much more troubling. Where is the money? Wouldn’t already struggling South Floridians who are now facing an even larger financial dilemma by having to facilitate home schooling, be best served by being refunded for the savings by school districts? Notice that hasn’t even been a topic of conversation to date. Meanwhile we’re held hostage to the education establishment with our homes and property. The top funding source for education comes from your property taxes. This is why I always encourage a comprehensive review of one’s property tax statement annually and recommend rejecting any and all additional property taxes – including special school/teacher related assessments.
Circumstances can change like what we’ve experienced during this pandemic. This can include job loss or forced job loss to stay home with your children which aren’t offered classroom education options. You might still be working but earning less, etc. But here’s what won’t change. Your property taxes, the amount the schools collect from them and the fact that if you don’t or can’t pay them – they'll take your home or business away from you. This is also why I’ve previously suggested that it’s selfish to vote for any additional property taxes regardless of the reasons cited. Even if you are financially well off and can afford the increases during adverse times, what about those who can’t? Your vote for higher property taxes is potentially a vote to force someone out of their home. This as Paul Harvey would have said is the rest of the story. The story which is omitted by news media that placates the education establishment, sucks up to teachers' unions and is quick to embrace special taxes in the name of anything teacher and education related. It’s time to become informed and demand answers. It’s also a time to educate yourself and others and vote. Numerous local elections which will impact your life will be decided on August 18th – this even includes some school board races. Also, take the time to look up how much you’re specifically paying in property taxes for these schools and educate your neighbors.