House backs study of school funding issue

By The News Service of Florida
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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. - With backing from Republican education leaders, a key House committee Wednesday approved a bill that could be a first step toward trying to revise how money is distributed to school districts.

The bill (HB 495), filed by House Education PreK-12 Appropriations Chairman Manny Diaz Jr., R-Hialeah, and Education Chairman Michael Bileca, R-Miami, would lead to hiring a consultant to study a price-level index that is part of the state’s school-funding formula.

The bill also would lead to the Department of Education submitting a report with recommendations to the Legislature by Jan. 1.

The price-level index is used to help account for different costs of living across the state as money is divided among school districts.

While the bill only calls for a study and a report, past attempts to tinker with the price-level index and the complicated funding formula have spurred debate, as changes can lead to some districts getting more money and others taking a financial hit.

The House Appropriations Committee approved the bill Wednesday, and the House’s proposed budget includes $100,000 for the study, according to a staff analysis.

The Senate version of the bill (SB 824), filed by Sen. Rene Garcia, R-Hialeah, has been approved by one committee.

News Service of Florida