Senator Hutson, District 7 — Press Release
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
July 25, 2017
Senators Hukill and Hutson Request Study of DCD Education Funding Formula
TALLAHASSEE, FL – Senator Dorothy Hukill (R-Port Orange) and Senator Travis Hutson (R-St. Augustine) have requested a study of the controversial district cost differential (DCD) used in Florida’s K-12 education funding formula.
The DCD is used to incorporate cost of living differences between districts to offset personnel costs, which are some of the largest budget items school districts must account for. However, in practice the DCD is the only component of the funding formula that simultaneously reduces some district allotments while increasing others, as opposed to simply adding funds to districts that qualify for more money. In their letter to Senate President Negron, Senators Hukill and Hutson cite this inequity and request a study to determine if the current DCD should be kept, modified or eliminated.
“We need to take a closer look at the DCD and the way our K-12 funding formula is structured to allow more equality in school funding,” said Senator Dorothy Hukill. “Our students and our school districts need to be adequately funded so that all of our students are receiving the quality education and services they are entitled to no matter the size or location of their school district.”
Prior to 2003, the DCD was indexed to the cost of 100 everyday consumer purchases in each Florida county. However, in 2003 the DCD changed to the current statistical method based on relative wages for comparable workers across Florida’s 67 school districts.
“Ensuring each child in Florida receives a fair and equal education is a sacred constitutional duty for us in the legislature, and the DCD needs to be looked at to make sure it is not preventing us from doing so,” said Senator Travis Hutson. “I am especially troubled by the growing disparity in funding between dense urban districts and more sparse suburban and rural districts. The current reality of the DCD is reduced funding for poorer districts while increasing funding for richer districts and that is just not right.”
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SEE LETTER BELOW:
July 25, 2017
Dear Senate President Negron:
Our constituents often rely on our offices to make sense of the decisions made in Tallahassee. As our area’s elected members to The Florida Senate, we try our best to offer timely, thorough and accurate responses to local concerns. With the focus on K-12 education funding during this past Session and Special Session, locals in each of the counties we represent have asked for explanation of a particular part of the Florida Education Funding Program (FEFP) that negatively affects their school budgets, the district cost differential (DCD). Unfortunately, we do not have adequate answers to their questions and share in their concerns.
The DCD is the component of the FEFP used to account for cost of living differences between districts. As personnel costs are some of the largest budget items districts must account for, factoring more expensive personnel costs for districts makes sense. However, in practice the DCD is the only component of the FEFP that simultaneously reduces some district allotments while increasing others, as opposed to simply adding funds to districts that qualify. Since the DCD is the last component used to compute a district’s Base Funding, this inequity is imbedded into the very foundation of a district’s budget.
Further compounding this imbalance is the potential regressive nature of the DCD due to the computations favoring denser, urban areas over others. Since the areas benefiting by the DCD are more likely to have a stronger property tax base to supplement local school budgets, state money potentially allotted to poorer districts is taken and given to richer districts with more local means. Similarly, parents in suburban bedroom communities, who often move there precisely due to their schools, often see the DCD reduce their school budgets due to wages being calculated in the district where parents work and not where they live. These all raise some serious concerns about the DCD especially in regards to the legislature’s constitutional mandate to provide a fair and uniform education to all of Florida’s children.
To answer these concerns, in our capacity as Members of the Florida Senate we are requesting that OPPAGA and the Office of Economic & Demographic Research conduct a study of the DCD and provide recommendations on what factors are used to determine the DCD, what the appropriate formula should be, how allocations should be distributed among the school districts, are there alternatives to the DCD, and whether the DCD should be eliminated.
Thank you for your consideration of this matter and please let us know if you have any additional questions.
Dorothy L. Hukill Travis Hutson
State Senator, District 14 State Senator, District 7
Cc: Cheri Vancura, Chief of Staff, Senate President Negron