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House releases proposed education budget

House Education Appropriations Subcommittee Chair Erik Fresen on Tuesday released his $20.7 billion budget proposal.

Fresen is recommending that $6,988 be spent on each student in the K-12 system. That figure represents a $207.98 increase over the current level, or an increase of about 3 percent. (It is roughly $40 per-kid more than Gov. Rick Scott wants to spend.)

The House proposal includes $404.9 million for Voluntary Prekindergarten programs -- the same as this year, even though enrollment is expected to decline. 

It boosts spending on state colleges by $69.8 million, and spending on the State University System by $120 million. 

"I'm very encouraged by our budget proposal," Fresen said. "We have significant increases in early learning, K-12 [education] and higher education. The budget clearly prioritizes our students -- not systems -- and significantly increases the funding for the disabled and the most vulnerable among us."

Fresen's committee also released a proposed "conforming bill" that would lessen the penalties for failing to comply with the Constitutional amendment that limits class size. School systems are currently penalized for each classroom that goes over the limit. If the language becomes law, districts would only be held accountable for the schoolwide average. 

A similar legislative proposal seems to have stalled.