Fla. gov. wants another boost in money for schools

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. - Florida Gov. Rick Scott is calling for another increase in spending on public schools in the coming year, although his latest request is less than half of what he pushed for in 2013.

Scott on Monday will ask state legislators to boost spending on public schools this fall by $542 million.

Last year Scott wanted a $1.2 billion increase that included enough money to grant teachers a $2,500 pay raise. Teachers wound up getting raises, although not all of them got the exact amount promised by the governor.

But the Scott administration maintains that this year's funding request is enough to boost overall public school funding to "historic" levels of nearly $19 billion. That total includes both local and state tax money.

"We need to provide the tools, training and funding to give our students the best chance for success, " Scott said in a statement.

Scott will outline his education budget recommendations during a stop in Delray Beach. The governor is scheduled to release his complete budget Wednesday. He already has rolled out several recommendations, including his pitch to cut overall taxes and fees by $500 million.

During his first year in office, Scott called for a cut in overall spending in schools along with large tax cuts. The Republican-led Legislature did not go along with Scott's tax cuts and they whittled down the size of the education cuts to slightly more than $1 billion.

This year's education budget recommendations from Scott will include $8.4 million in professional development for principals and assistant principals as well as $5 million for training and technical assistance for teachers related to the implementation of contentious new state standards. Florida is putting in place standards largely based on "Common Core State Standards" for all grade levels during the next school year.

The standards have been criticized as being part of a "federal intrusion" into state education and a strategy to force children to take more high-stakes testing. Much of the criticism has come from conservative activists and some members of the Republican Party of Florida.

Scott's budget request for education will also include $2 billion for state colleges and $3.59 billion for the state university system. The budget request for state universities includes $40 million for so-called performance funding that would tie monetary awards to how well universities perform in several categories.

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