LAKEWOOD RANCH — Florida’s educational system will be getting more funding from the state — a change that will benefit students from pre-kindergarten classes through college.
Local legislators Sen. Nancy Detert and Sen. Bill Galvano joined Manatee County Schools Superintendent Rick Mills, University of South Florida Regional Vice Chancellor for Academics Bonnie Jones and State College of Florida President Carol Probstfield on stage May 11, as the Lakewood Ranch Kiwanis Club hosted its Educational Leadership Luncheon, at the Polo Grill and Bar.
Panelists, who spoke about changes in budgets, law or their respective organizations, shared their vision for education locally and in Florida, while updating attendees on future plans and needs for education in the community.
The Florida Senate’s 2013-2014 General Appropriations Act, passed in March, increased public school funding for grades kindergarten through 12 by $1.2 billion, which included a minimum of $480 million in performance-based salary increases for instructional personnel.
The act also included funding research university pre-eminence, performance funding for industry certifications at high schools and performance funding in the state college and university systems for high-demand programs, among other items.
Sen. Nancy Detert
“We put part of the money in the budget to pay for (a mentoring program) at every college campus,” Detert says. Legislators have allotted $15.8 million for mentoring programs in Florida’s kindergarten through 12th-grade public schools.
Sen. Bill Galvano
“This was one of the most aggressive education budgets we’ve had in a decade,” Galvano says of the budget the Florida Senate approved in March. “For (kindergarten) through 12th grade, we increased (funding by) $1.5 billion. We got $22 million more for the K-12 system in Manatee (County).”
Carol Probstfield, State College of Florida president
“We try to work with students and connect them with resources in the community,” Probstfield says of students needing remediation. “(We want) them to get the help they need to be successful.”
Dr. Bonnie Jones, University of South Florida Regional vice chancellor for academics
“We’re trying to be a world-class university for the area,” Jones says, noting USF has contacted Benderson Development, co-developer of the Mall at University Town Center, about a potential partnership with USF’s hospitality program.
Rick Mills, Manatee Schools superintendent
“All the challenges we’ve heard — we’re going to get to the bottom of, and we’re going to move forward,” Mills says. “We’re going to strategically align throughout the district. We have all the key ingredients for success.”