Governor Rick Scott today presented checks totaling more than $14.2 million in School Recognition Program funding to districts in the West Palm Beach area. Indian River, Martin, Palm Beach and St. Lucie school districts can use their award dollars for faculty or staff bonuses, to purchase educational equipment or materials, or hire temporary staff to help maintain or improve student performance. Statewide, school recognition funding totals more than $134 million.
Governor Scott said, “Florida students and teachers were ranked 6th for educational quality, our fourth-grade students scored among the best in the world in an international reading survey, and we recently learned Florida students are number one for percentage of students taking an AP exam. In conjunction with our proposed $1.2 billion in educational funding as part of the Florida Families First Budget, the school recognition funding will allow our teachers and students to continue on their path of success.”
Florida’s School Recognition Program acknowledges the quality of public schools by giving financial rewards based on sustained or significantly improved student achievement in reading, mathematics, science and writing. Schools eligible for recognition awards include those receiving an “A” school grade, improving at least one letter grade from the previous year, or improving more than one letter grade and sustaining the improvement the following school year. Alternative schools that increase their school improvement rating or are rated “improving” also qualify for awards. The school staff and school advisory council at each recognized school jointly decide how to use the financial award, according to Lane Wright, spokesperson for the Office of Gov. Rick Scott.
“Governor Scott understands that rewarding schools for performance promotes even higher achievement,” said Commissioner of Education Dr. Tony Bennett. “His Florida Families First budget calls for an even larger commitment to the School Recognition Program.”
As part of his Florida Families First Budget, Governor Scott requested an increase in School Recognition Program funding to $125 per student, up from $93 this year. State funding for K-12 education in the Florida Families First Budget totals $10.7 billion – the highest state funding level in history. Included in this historic total is $480 million to support $2,500 pay raises for Florida’s K-12 classroom teachers, plus the cost of associated benefits.Total funding for K-12 education in the Florida Families First budget is $18.47 billion, an increase of $1.25 billion, or 7.3 percent, over last year’s budget, which also invested $1 billion in K-12 education. This increase represents per student funding of $6,799, an increase of more than $400 over the current fiscal year, according to Wright.
“School Recognition Program funding is a valuable investment in high-performing schools,” said St. Lucie County Deputy District School Superintendent Genelle Yost. “St. Lucie County Schools’ devoted leaders, teachers, and staff are all deserving recipients of this funding by leading our students to higher achievement levels. We are grateful that Governor Scott has included additional funding for this program in his Florida Families First Budget.”
“I am so pleased that nearly 1,700 schools have met or exceeded the high standards set by Florida’s School Recognition Program,” said Florida State Board of Education Member Barbara Feingold. “This extra funding will allow school leaders to focus on implementing lasting reforms focused on creating classrooms overflowing with student success. Governor Scott recognizes that rewarding high performance encourages schools to go even further.”
Before an audience of educators and community leaders, Governor Scott presented the checks to representatives from the four school districts at Wynnebrook Elementary School in Palm Beach County. Although nearly nine out of ten students at Wynnebrook are considered economically disadvantaged, the school has earned an “A” grade for the past ten years.
“These schools are getting it right, because they are focusing on how to better prepare today’s students for tomorrow’s competitive workforce,” said Florida State Board of Education Member John Padget. “I am proud that we are able to support Florida’s best schools with this additional funding program and will work to support Governor Scott’s budget proposal to increase future funding.”
The total amount of school recognition funding announced today is $14,202,101, according to Wright.