TALLAHASSEE (CBSMiami / NSF) – House Republican leaders will seek in the upcoming budget to base public school funding on “actual enrollment” after the state made a change this year that helped to financially strengthen the districts during the COVID-19 pandemic.

In a letter to the headmasters on Thursday, House Speaker Chris Sprowls wrote that the House will seek to end a temporary system of funding districts based on enrollment projections and return the money to “actual enrollment in these schools” to tie.

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Districts are typically funded based on the number of students receiving face-to-face tuition. Amid the pandemic, Education Commissioner Richard Corcoran has allowed districts to maintain funding based on planned enrollments, provided they are given face-to-face five days a week.

“This’ indemnity ‘has enabled school districts to withhold $ 700 million in taxpayers’ money, in excess of what would otherwise be legally allowed,” Sprowls wrote in the letter.

The state’s latest enrollment estimate, passed in January, found that 88,000 students were unregistered, compared to the expected number of students. Under Corcoran’s orders, districts are receiving money for these “missing” students.

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“Florida House strongly encourages you to work with all available state and local resources, including social services and law enforcement, to locate these missing children,” Sprowls wrote, adding that superintendents should work to “turn these students into a K Enroll -12 “educational option allowed under Florida law. ”

It is unknown how much of the drop in enrollment is due to students leaving traditional public schools for private schools or homeschooling, and state economists don’t expect it until the summer. However, Andrew Spar, president of the Florida Education Association, pointed out that more money is needed for schools.

“There is no doubt that this is not a normal year and that it will be a tight budget, but our public schools need to be protected,” Spar said in a prepared statement. “After the upheavals and trauma of last year, schools need more, not less, funds. If our students stay on track, or are back on track to succeed, when they have the teachers and support staff necessary to do so, lawmakers must invest in Florida’s public schools. ”

The House and Senate will draw up a budget for the 2021-2022 fiscal year during the legislative term that begins March 2.

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