Controversial House budget proposal, some fear it could take millions from schools

Some school districts are not happy about a state budget proposal. Leaders fear it could take millions of dollars and resources from your child's school. At least three districts in our area could be impacted. 

State Representative Randy Fine says every district is set to get more money next year – but he's proposing some get even more than others. Fine wants to take a total of 200 million dollars from districts that enforced a student mask policy this year. He says that money should be given as a reward to the districts that didn't. It's called the "Putting Parents First Adjustment". 

You may remember the governor said it was illegal for schools to make students wear masks, but some kept the policy. 

55 districts could benefit. 12 could miss out. The ones in our area are Orange County Public Schools, Brevard County Public Schools, and Volusia County Public Schools. 

Fine says that $200 million bonus for the 55 districts would come from the salaries of administrative workers from the 12 districts. He's looking specifically at workers who make 100,000 dollars or more. Fine says it's not punishment, but accountability. 

"We use that as a benchmark of what the adjustment would be," said Rep. Randy Fine, House Representative, "We're not requiring them to cut those positions, but we are requiring them to cut their central administrative expense by that amont. They can determine how they do that."

Below is a funding break down for districts in our area:

  • Orange County Public Schools could lose more than $16 million in funding
  • Volusia County Public Schools could lose more than $3 million in funding
  • Brevard County Public Schools could lose more than $4 million in funding.

Lake County Public Schools, Flagler County Public Schools, and Osceola County Public Schools could gain anywhere from more than 2 million to more than 10 million additional dollars. 

Fine says the language in the proposal does say that districts can't cut funding for student activities if they are impacted.

Within the last few days, Orange County Public Schools sent a letter to its representatives in Tallahassee bashing the idea. OCPS says it's punishment for trying to protect students and this proposal would hurt students. 

Leaders say 92 positions with the district could be impacted. For example, early learning positions, school safety, or people who work in student transportation.  

Volusia County schools say the district has its lawyers looking into this and does not believe it should be a part of the group of "alleged violators." The district says it only had masks mandatory for a short time when it was permitted by the courts. VCPS says the school board made masks optional once the decision was made that masks could not be mandated for students.

Brevard County Schools said it's too early to comment. 

Fine says he feels optimistic that his budget proposal will move forward. 

"I love the fact that these school districts are moaning and groaning. It means that accountability is going to hit them. When my 10-year-old doesn't listen to me at home - I take his iPad. Accountability when you don't follow the rules. When accountability isn't strong enough, then they'll break the rules again." 

The House will debate the budget and this proposed "Putting Parents First Adjustment" on Tuesday and Wednesday. The House is set to vote on the budget Wednesday. The House would then negotiate with the Senate over the final budget before it's presented to the Governor.