Interim Commissioner of Education Jeanine Blomberg told a committee of the Taxation and Budget Commission today that, according to a modest estimate of needs for Florida's schools in the next 10 years, the state will need $31 billion in new money to pay for the estimated 1 to 2 percent growth in student enrollment. That's on top of the $19 billion needed each year just to keep a cost per student at a flat $7,300.
She said that, prior to the special session on property taxes, state economists estimated there would be an 8 to 9 percent growth in property tax revenue for schools over the next decade. Now, that equation is changed, she said, because of the proposed constitutional amendment which projects a cut on education of $7.2 billion over just five years.
"You have to look at efficiencies,'' Blomberg explained. She also noted that the state budget is going to have to increase for education to meet the growing needs. "You have to expect more or are you going to find these dollars from some other avenue."
One big assumption written into these estimates: people with school-age children stop leaving the state. Enrollment growth has actually declined statewide over the last two years, Blomberg said, because "we have found that people are moving out of the state, so we are going to have to watch that very closely."