Florida school districts that resisted DeSantis’ mask ban could lose millions

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School districts may expect more struggles as the challenge of providing education during a pandemic continues.

The Florida Legislature must decide whether to approve a proposed budget that would reallocate funding among school districts in the state.

The Florida House’s proposed budget would shift $200 million away from 12 school districts that required students to wear masks last year during the COVID-19 pandemic. The money would be redirected to 55 other districts that did not have mask mandates.

The Pre-K12 Appropriations Subcommittee is considering the proposal. 

The committee chair, Rrep. Randy Fine, R-Palm Bay, proposed the measure after conflicts between districts and Gov. Ron DeSantis over his mask mandate ban ensued. 

“A number of school districts intentionally broke the law, but 55 of them did not,” Fine said. “And so we have created an allocation in this budget of $200 million for the 55 school districts. It is being given out based on their FTE counts to reward them for the decisions that they made.”

In a written statement, Dr. Carlee Simon, superintendent of Alachua County Public Schools, said the proposal would eliminate jobs of employees working in districts where mask policies were implemented. 

Per the proposed budget, Alachua County stands to lose over $2 million in education funding. 

The superintendent said it is unrealistic to expect districts affected by this proposal to function properly without the people who would ultimately be lost from the funding decrease.

“This proposal would take badly-needed funding away from districts serving more than half of Florida’s students,” Simon said. “Contrary to what its supporters say, it will certainly hurt schools, classrooms and well over a million of the state’s students. That includes students whose parents opposed masks in schools, not just those who supported them.”

A breakdown of the money the 12 districts would lose:

  • Alachua County: $2,049,770
  • Brevard County: $4,502,342
  • Broward County: $32,442,995
  • Duval County: $10,633,594
  • Hillsborough County: $14,193,997
  • Indian River County: $1,317,948
  • Leon County: $2,744,124
  • Miami-Dade County: $71,867,725
  • Orange County: $16,555,960
  • Palm Beach County: $28,431,102
  • Sarasota County: $12,062,991
  • Volusia County: $3,197,452

The News Service of Florida contributed reporting.

About Addison Pezoldt

Addison is a reporter for WUFT News who can be reached by calling 352-392-6397 or emailing news@wuft.org.

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