Two new studies illuminate Florida K-12 funding. The first, from Mike Petrilli, president of the Thomas B. Fordham Institute and research fellow at Stanford University’s Hoover Institution, includes this chart:
So, for those of you squinting at your iPhone, the east-west axis is tracking the percent change in enrollment between 2000 and 2015, while the north-south axis is showing the constant dollar percentage increase in per pupil funding.
There obviously is a negative relationship between rapid enrollment growth and high levels of per pupil spending growth. Most of the states with very large increases saw their student population shrink. Florida looks to have seen population growth of approximately 15 percent during this period and per pupil funding growth of 18 percent.
Petrilli notes a national baby-bust, but in Florida this may simply mean a moderating of enrollment growth, already noted between older Census estimates and more recent state projections. There will be no moderation of the increase in the elderly population. A decade from now this may look like the good ole days of funding increases, so buckle up.
TaxWatch also released a study finding an “all in” per pupil number for Florida schools of $10,856. The analysis compared the traditional district school cost to the cost of two of the largest learning options the state currently provides to parents and their students – charter schools and tax-credit scholarships.
TaxWatch estimated per charter school student funding for fiscal year 2017-18 to be $7,476. The average maximum scholarship available through the Florida Tax Credit Scholarship Program, which allows children from low-income and middle-income families to attend private schools, for fiscal year 2017-18 was $6,447.
A Florida newspaper editorial board that recently editorialized that Florida “could not afford” vouchers may require some remedial math; Florida has a great deal of enrollment growth on the way and can more easily afford to choose charter and private schools than districts, although all three will remain options.