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School districts address state budget dollars for next year

Posted at 5:30 PM, May 08, 2019
and last updated 2019-05-08 19:39:08-04

School districts across the state are getting more money next school year per student, but how much more depends on who you ask.

Martin County schools are moving toward a plan to increase digital access to every classroom. However, this year’s state budget for school districts is dramatically decreasing the funds for that, by half a million dollars for the Martin County School District.

“Now we’re like halfway to Europe in our cruise ship and we’re being told no, no, we’re not going to give you the gas to go there anymore,” said Martin County School Board Chair Christia Li Roberts.

The state says it’s giving districts about $248 more per student than it did last year. This year dollars for the best and brightest teacher bonus program is also included in that money.

“Best and brightest has never been included in the formula before; overall Martin County is getting about $4 million more, half of that is best and brightest,” said Roberts.

The Palm Beach County School District said the state funds show a $248 increase, but if you back out just over $100 for “best and brightest” and then take away funds restricted for safe schools and mental health spending, you’re left with $124.79, a 1.61 percent increase from last year, according to the district.

“The budget is better but there’s a wrinkle we have to look at,” said Palm Beach County School District Chief Financial Officer Mike Burke.

Also included in this year’s budget are dollars for teacher raises, expanding mental health services, new musical instruments for students, Burke says all because of two referendums passed by county voters.

“There are some very positive things in our budget but that’s really a result of the generosity of our voters here in Palm Beach County,” added Burke.

Last year school districts only saw a 47-cent increase in funds per student.