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Per-student funding gets reduced

By Staff | Jan 9, 2010

The amount of funding schools receive per student recently decreased, but Lee County won’t have to return any of its budget dollars to the state.
All 67 school districts participate in the Florida Education Finance Program where funding collected from school taxes is pooled and divided across the state based on certain district characteristics.
Student enrollment numbers were collected in October and sent to the Florida Department of Education for a final calculation of all funds. Now they’re going to be dispersed to counties starting Jan. 8, according to a Florida Department of Education memorandum.
The Lee County School District was supposed to receive $7,220.87 for every full-time enrolled student, but that amount is now $7,177.33 — a decrease of $43.54 per student.
A decrease of per student funding hit many districts hard but Lee County will actually gain $648,604 from FEFP.
Major counties such as Dade lost approximately $53.6 million in the state’s calculation while smaller counties like Charlotte received an additional $2.6 million, Collier County lost $2.8 million and Hendry gained $63,027.
“We didn’t have to send any money back to the state,” said Ami Desamours, budget director for the school district.
Local student enrollment has decreased over the last two years, but Desamours said the district reported a gain of 570 full-time equivalent students this year. More students and a proration from the state made the decrease in per student spending only $15 instead of $43.
“That generated additional dollars for us, we also got a proration of $1.2 million due to the budget shortfall,” she said.
Desamours said the district doesn’t anticipate making any further cuts in the 2010 fiscal year. This spring the superintendent and school board will begin the budgeting cycle for 2011.
“We will do the best we can to try and hold steady to what we have, but with class size coming up we are really going to have to be creative with figuring how to make that happen and maintain our programs,” she said.
By August the school district needs to adhere to the Class Size Amendment which caps the amount of students in every class — 18 students in elementary school, 22 in middle school and 25 in high school.
Districts that aren’t in compliance will be forced to have operational dollars transferred to their capital accounts with the intention of forcing counties to build more schools.