New State Budget Funds School District Hurricane Ian Recovery

New State Budget Funds School District Hurricane Ian Recovery
Posted on 06/22/2023
New State Budget Funds School District Hurricane Ian Recovery

The School District of Lee County is proud to announce the Framework for Freedom Budget signed by Governor Ron DeSantis, fully funds the District’s Hurricane Ian Recovery appropriation requests and other legislative priorities. The total directly appropriated to the School District is more than $21.5 million.

“The School District of Lee County is very appreciative of all of the bills, which our local Legislators sponsored in this year’s Session,” said School Board of Lee County Chair Armor Persons. “In addition to much-needed hurricane relief, the Lee County Legislative Delegation championed bills increasing school safety, career and technical education expansion, after school programs, and per student funding. We are grateful that the Legislature passed these bills and that Governor DeSantis signed them into law, which made the Legislative Session a huge success.”

Lee County’s Legislative Delegation is comprised of Senate President Kathleen Passidomo, Senator Ben Albritton, Senator Jonathan Martin, Representative Jenna Persons-Mulicka, who also serves as the Lee County Delegation Chair, Representative Mike Giallombardo, Representative Spencer Roach, Representative Adam Botana, and Representative Tiffany Esposito.

“On behalf of our Board, staff, students, and families, we are extremely grateful to the Lee County Legislative Delegation and Governor Ron DeSantis for understanding our unique needs and then supporting our requests all the way to approval in the state budget,” said Superintendent Dr. Christopher Bernier. “The investment in our District will ensure our schools, students, and staff see a full recovery from the damage caused by Hurricane Ian. With the legislators’ help and the Governor's signature, we will also be able to expand our program offerings to our students and make our campuses safer. “

The School Board made an appropriation request, sponsored by Senator Martin and Representative Persons-Mulicka, for just over $17.5 million for the District’s documented, non-reimbursable, hurricane-related capital losses, which was fully funded. An appropriation request for non-reimbursable operational losses was also submitted, which will be addressed by a grant made available by the Legislature for school districts impacted by Hurricane Ian and Nicole.

Three additional Legislative Priorities also funded in the 2023-2024 state budget include:

  • $2,500,000 for safety and security technology to be installed in schools for the purpose of maintaining safe and secure learning environments for students and staff (sponsored by Senator Martin and Representative Esposito)
  • $1,244,000 to expand the Career and Technical Education (CTE) programs at Cape Coral Technical College to include Automotive Service Technology, Marine Service Technologies, HVAC-R, Welding Technology, and other construction-related and building trades programs (sponsored by Senator Martin and Representative Roach)
  • $250,000 to provide expanded after school activities to ensure students are provided with a safe and secure after school environment (sponsored by Senator Martin and Representative Botana)

The School District of Lee County will also benefit from additional state funding provided for education. The Framework for Freedom Budget raises per student funding by $405 to a record per student investment of $8,648 in the Florida Education Finance Program (FEFP). Total FEFP funding for the K-12 public school system is $26.8 billion. Other key investments include $1.1 billion in funding, an increase of $252 million, to provide salary increases for new and veteran teachers and other eligible instructional personnel, and $1.6 billion in funding for early childhood education, including more than $427 million for Voluntary Pre-Kindergarten (VPK).

“Florida continues to lead the nation on all fronts, and we have laid the groundwork for generations of success,” said Governor Ron DeSantis. “Through this year’s budget, we have cemented an economic framework which supports Florida’s families, business owners, and students in the pursuit of a prosperous future.”

The Framework for Freedom Budget also includes $635 million to support workforce education programs to ensure Florida students are prepared to fill high-demand and high-wage jobs. More than $6 billion has been committed to workforce education since 2019.

Parents will also benefit from two Back-to-School sales tax holidays, one in the fall and one in the spring, to save an estimated $160 million on school supplies. The holidays cover clothing up to $100, school supplies up to $50, learning aides and jigsaw puzzles up to $30, and personal computers and accessories up to $1,500.