Florida TaxWatch Looks at True Cost of Education in New Report

Florida TaxWatch released a report on Wednesday, updating the “true average cost of educating a K-12 public school student in Florida,” a follow up to a similar study from two years ago.

“The most commonly reported per-student spending figures in Florida are based solely on funding provided through the Florida Education Finance Program (FEFP). For the 2017-18 school year, Florida public schools would have spent an average of $7,307 ‘per student’ in FEFP funding. However, Florida TaxWatch cautions that this figure can be misleading. When expenditures like school construction, voter-approved general obligation bonds, preschool programs, debt service, capital outlay, are factored in, the ‘true cost’ of educating a K-12 public school student during the 2017-18 school year is $10,856,” Florida TaxWatch noted.

Dominic Calabro, the president and CEO of Florida TaxWatch, weighed in on the study on Wednesday.

“It is critical that taxpayers have a clear understanding of how much education revenue is available, how that revenue is spent, what it is spent on, the outcome of such expenditures, and the impact on student achievement,” said Calabro. “Taxpayers and policymakers should be able to properly determine whether their state and local K-12 education investments are cost-effective and how they can be constantly improved.”

Florida TaxWatch also looked at true costs of charter school and private school scholarships.

“TaxWatch estimates the true cost per charter school student 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 working class families to attend private schools, for Fiscal Year 2017-18 is $6,447,” the group noted.

“According to Florida TaxWatch’s analysis, charter schools and private school scholarships provide cost-effective competitive alternatives to traditional district schools,” said former state Rep. Ronald Brise, the chairman of Florida TaxWatch Center for Educational Performance Accountability Advisory Board. “It’s imperative that parents have a thorough understanding of K-12 funding so they can make informed decisions regarding the educational programs that best meet their children’s needs.”


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