Intrepid Flagler School Board member Colleen Conklin has responded to criticism of her proposal to sue the state of Florida for failing to fund education. Conklin takes the state’s lawmakers to task for unfunded mandates.
Every year legislators burden Florida school districts and taxpayers with bills that mandate actions, but provide little or no funding for implementation. This past year, Senate Bill 736 was loaded with expensive, unproven reforms. According to the Florida Senate’s own analysis, development and administration of the statewide, standardized assessments in SB 736 will cost approximately $1.5 million annually. Even the Florida Senate concludes that “the fiscal impact of this bill is indeterminate.” It’s easy to create this distraction and fall into the trap of defining what adequate funding is. It is also easy for the conversation to get sidetracked by what defines a high-quality education……….
And that $1.5 million is just what the state will have to pay for. We still have no idea what cost there will be for individual districts. Conklin doesn’t stop there and points out that there are more mandates that aren’t adequately funded either.
……While ESE is mandated through federal law, the state and federal officials do not fund them. We will spend close to $10 million to fund our ESE students this year, but the federal government only provides $3 million. That’s $7 million we are forced to take from our general fund. Each year we dip into our general fund and take millions out of it to make up for this shortfall.
Small wonder Florida state senator Steve Wise sought to end salaries for school board members during the last legislative session. Conklin’s an effective opponent and someone who’s sure to be a future headache for Wise and the state’s corporate reform apparatus. But the presense of unfunded mandates in Florida’s school reform bill show that there’s something there for everyone not to like.