Higher Education Coordinating Council

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Florida Department of Education

What is the purpose of the program?

Public education is a basic function and responsibility of the state of Florida. The state’s K-12 public education program is designed to ensure the establishment and provision of a state system of schools, courses, classes and institutions, and services to meet the basic educational needs of all the state’s citizens. This statewide system is administered in local school districts overseen by a school board and monitored by the Department of Education.

What are the state’s responsibilities to public schools?

The state is responsible for establishing standards and regulations to ensure the efficient operation of all schools and adequate educational opportunities for all Florida children.

What services do public schools provide?

Florida public schools provide numerous educational programs, ranging from basic to specialized instruction, and operational programs that support student education. In addition, public schools are involved in state school improvement, accountability, and testing initiatives to ensure that students meet established academic standards so they successfully progress from grade to grade, are successful in attaining higher education, and become productive members of society. Florida offers parents the opportunity to make choices from a wide range of public schools offering appropriate educational programs for their children.

What are the general roles and responsibilities of school boards, superintendents, and principals?

School Boards. The school board in each school district is established in Article IX of the Constitution of the State of Florida. Each school board establishes policies, and operates, controls, and supervises all of the public schools in the district. Among the specific responsibilities Florida law assigns to school boards is to maintain a system of school improvement and education accountability as provided by statute and State Board of Education rule. The following six state education priorities establish the framework for school improvement: (1) learning and completion at all levels, including increased high school graduation rate and readiness for postsecondary education without remediation; (2) student performance; (3) alignment of standards and resources; (4) educational leadership; (5) workforce education; and (6) parental, student, family, educational institution, and community involvement. More detailed information on school boards can be found in ss. 1001.34-1001.453, Florida Statutes.

Superintendents. District superintendents are either elected in a general election or appointed by the school board based on the decision of the local electorate. As of August 2009, 24 superintendents were appointed by the district school board and 43 superintendents were elected by county voters. Florida law outlines the general powers and responsibilities of district school superintendents including attending all regular meetings of the district school board; keeping minutes of all official school board actions and proceedings; acting for the school board as custodian of school property; supervising the assembling of data and sponsoring studies and surveys essential to the development of a planned school program for the entire district; and, recommending the establishment, organization, and operation of schools, classes, and services, as needed, to provide adequate educational opportunities for all children in the district. In addition, the superintendent is responsible for directing the work of school and district personnel; recommending plans for improving, providing, distributing, accounting for, and caring for instructional materials; providing for student transportation as prescribed in law; recommending and executing plans as approved, regarding all phases of the school plant program; and recommending measures to the district school board to assure adequate educational facilities throughout the district. More detailed information on superintendent responsibilities can be found in ss. 1001.46-1001.53, Florida Statutes.

Principals. Florida law gives school principals authority over school district personnel, including recommending to the superintendent the hiring of instructional personnel assigned to the principal’s school; overseeing the performance of all personnel employed by the district school board and assigned to the principal’s school; and, assisting teachers with the use of student assessment data, as measured by student learning gains, for self-evaluation. Specific principal responsibilities include supporting the authority of each teacher and school bus driver to remove disobedient, disrespectful, violent, abusive, uncontrollable, or disruptive students from classrooms and school buses; providing instructional leadership in the development, revision, and implementation of a school improvement plan; and making the necessary provisions to ensure that all school reports are accurate and timely. Finally, the principal is responsible for the management and care of instructional materials and for implementing the Family and School Partnership for Student Achievement Act. More detailed information on principal responsibilities can be found in s. 1001.54, Florida Statutes.

How many school districts and public schools are in Florida?

Florida has 67 school districts, with each county constituting a school district. As of Fiscal Year 2008-09, Florida had approximately 3,990 traditional public schools, 389 charter schools, and 7 university research schools and special school districts.

How many children attend Florida public schools?

In the fall of 2008, student membership, from pre-kindergarten through the twelfth grade, totaled 2,628,754 for Florida’s 67 school and special districts. This represented a slight decrease of less than 1% from the fall 2007 school population. Over the last five years, Florida’s school population has decreased by 0.21%, or 5,469 students.

How many people do Florida public schools employ?

Florida’s public schools reported a total of 328,953 full-time employees in the fall of 2008, a decrease of 2% from the previous school year. Instructional staff accounted for 58% (190,924 employees), support staff comprised 39%, (126,655 employees), and administrators made up the remaining 3% (11,374 employees).

How is the performance of public schools measured?

Florida’s A+ Plan grades public schools A through F primarily based on student performance on the Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test (FCAT). The FCAT is a state student achievement test that specifically addresses a student's ability to perform on the Sunshine State Standards benchmarks.

What are the program’s expenditures?

School-level program expenditures for Fiscal Year 2007-08 (the most recent year for which expenditure data is available) totaled approximately $20 billion. In Fiscal Year 2007-08, program costs for schools ranged from approximately $511 million for 9-12 vocational programs to $5.8 billion for Exceptional Student Education programs.

How is the program funded?

Between Fiscal Years 2008-09 and 2009-10, total funding for public education increased 1.5% (from $21.9 billion in Fiscal Year 2008-09 to $22.2 billion in Fiscal Year 2009-10). The main sources of funding for public education include general revenue, local required effort funding, state trust funds, federal trust funds, lottery funds, and local discretionary funding. In Fiscal Year 2009-10, school districts will receive approximately 47% of their revenues from state sources, 40% from local sources (including the Required Local Effort portion of the Florida Education Finance Program), and 13% from federal sources.

The majority of education funding is allocated to school districts through the Florida Education Finance Program (FEFP) and categorical funding programs. During the Fiscal Year 2009-10, FEFP funding will account for approximately 74% of all school funding and is made up of both state (53%) and local (47%) funds. State funds appropriated to finance the FEFP in Fiscal Year 2009-10 are approximately $8.7 billion. To provide equalization of educational opportunity, the FEFP formula recognizes variances in (1) local property tax base; (2) education program costs; (3) costs of living; and (4) costs for equivalent educational programs due to sparsity and dispersion of the student population. The key feature of the FEFP is to base financial support for education upon the individual student enrolled in a particular program rather than the numbers of teachers or classrooms.

Major categorical funding programs provide school districts funds for specific purposes such as class size reduction, student transportation, instructional materials, and school technology. The Legislature appropriated $2.8 billion in categorical funds for Fiscal Year 2009-10. In 1999, the Legislature created the supplemental academic instruction categorical fund to give districts flexibility in the use of categorical funds. Districts may use these monies for programs such as (but not limited to) intensive skill development in summer school, class size reduction, a modified curriculum, reading instruction, after school instruction, tutoring, mentoring, or an extended school year. In Fiscal Year 2009-10, districts will receive a total of approximately $638 million for supplemental instructional categorical programs.

What are the applicable statutes?

Article IX, Section 1, Constitution of the State of Florida.
K-20 Education Code, Title XLVIII, Florida Statutes.


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