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More on those proposed schools cuts

Here's a breakdown of some of the budget-slashing proposals made by a Florida House panel Tuesday:

  • Cut any budget line-item funded by non-recurring (read: one-time) money. That includes programs funded by nearly $1 billion in federal stimulus funds that run out this year -- and more than $788,000 for the New World School of the Arts in downtown Miami, the only school with its own source of funding in the state education budget.
  • Eliminate or drastically reduce funding for programs outside the classroom, including money for low-performing schools to prepare students for Advanced Placement courses; funding for mentoring programs like Best Buddies and Big Brothers Big Sisters; dollars for autism programs at universities across the state, and money for the principal, teacher and school-related employee of the year.
  • Move schools toward using more (cheaper) electronic textbooks by requiring that school districts spend half of their state money for instructional materials for electronic and digital editions by the 2012-13 school year.
  • Authorize voluntary pre-kindergarten programs to increase the number of students per classroom.
  • Allow schools to enroll new students into full classes after October, when the state measures compliance with constitutional class-size requirements. Schools would be able to increase the number of students in classrooms provided they come up with a class-size compliance plan for the following year.

Rep. Michael Bileca, a Miami Republican, said he hoped that class-size measure would save more than $25 million, as expected.

"There's really not a lot of savings," said Rep. Marti Coley, the chairwoman of the Pre-K-12 House committee who made the proposals. "It's a constitutional amendment. We have to do it."


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Susan Garcia

There is really very little savings here. And what we are ending up with are overweight children who spend their entire days on the computer, rather than interacting with each other in classroom discussions. Reading computer screens rather than real books, which by the way, they can read faster, crazy student to teacher ratios that leave the teacher with many classroom behavior problems to resolve and our children with no individual help in learning--learning to write sentences and form letters, learning to sound out words.

The cuts to New World School of the Arts, on e of the Miami Dade gems of the school would be crippling--a program that provides artistic materials, music lessons to students who would be unable to afford them otherwise as part of the Arts curriculum--a school that is not only an Arts Magnet High School but also an Arts College. Cuts to this funding will devastate the services provided to students


The cuts represent the entire arts funding for NWSA, as I understand it. It may well be that the committee recommending the removal of the line item did not understand why it is there and what it serves.

The school has been extremely successful, and provides tremendous opportunity to students cutting across all cultural groups. It also is an institution that lets south Florida tell its story to the rest of the country, as dancers and playwrights graduate to dance companies and television studios across the country.

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