Duval County school officials say budget increase not even 'a good tip'

Superintendent: Increase wouldn't cover 1 teacher's salary, benefits

By Elizabeth Campbell - Reporter

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - Duval County schools officials said they were expecting more money in the budget, and now they’re worried they may need to make tough decisions on how to increase school safety with limited funds.

The numbers include the regular school year budget plus money from the governor’s school safety bill that he just signed last week.

Duval Schools officials told News4Jax that they expected to receive a $18 to 20 million increase in state funding, but instead will get less than $10 million. They said that’s not enough to make the changes the governor wants.

Nearly 130,000 students at nearly 200 schools in the Duval County school district, one of the 10 biggest of Florida's 67 counties. Dr. Tracy Pierce, marketing chief of the district, said what Florida lawmakers are offering the county is disappointing and unexpected.

"I think a key number to remember is 47 cents. It's the amount of increase per student we received for all school operations," Pierce said. "So for paying teachers for buying supplies everything it takes to run a school, we got 47 cents more per student through the legislative budget. That’s less than about $10 a class, which really isn’t even a good tip."

That 47 additional cents per student equals nearly $61,000 extra for the district. The superintendent said that doesn’t even cover one median teacher’s salary plus benefits, let alone the school safety improvements called for in the state's plan.

"We'll have to work that out with our School Board it will be tough choices around," Pierre said. "Do we use the money for school hardening, for school resource officers and all of those things that we would love to do to make our school safer for students? We can’t do everything that we want to do with the money that’s been allotted to us."

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