Subject: RE: Senator Mike Haridopolos
I appreciate the ?blanket? response Mike and although I could spend an inordinate amount of time refuting some of your charts and ?mis?-information here I do not wish to get into an email banter about how our per-pupil funding in Florida compares to other states. Our entire tax structure in Florida is not conducive to stable, sustained support of public education the way it needs to be and although you may disagree, the most recent evidence is the fact that we (Florida) had to ?apply? for a waiver to receive stimulus funds from the feds based on the Florida Legislature?s recent cuts or inadequate funding for education. Embarrassing for our state!!!
West Shore is the highest performing school in this district and is in the top three in the state of Florida?..every year. I have an active PTA of over 700 members and the thought of having to cut programs and teachers that will have a catastrophic effect on our students has my parent constituency incensed. I have always supported you Mike and share many conservative values; however, when it comes to kids and they?re collective well-being I can no longer support or condone your position.
I need to also remind you that Brevard Schools rank 66th out of 67 counties in Administrative non-classroom spending so there is nowhere else to cut here but in the classroom. I encourage you to look at ?new? revenue sources for public education and I am hopeful that we can all count on you to do the right thing at the upcoming Legislative Session. (tobacco, liquor, internet sales, corporate tax loopholes)
Thanks again for getting back with me and best wishes for the weekend and your meeting on the 23rd.
Rick Fleming, Principal
West Shore Jr/Sr High School
Sent: Friday, February 20, 2009 11:44 AM
To: Fleming, Rick@West Shore (Principal)
Subject: Senator Mike Haridopolos
Dear Principal Fleming,
We are so proud of our schools here in Brevard. I applaud your hard work as a principal as well as the work of our School Board, Superintendent, and our awesome students. Brevard County students are graduating at a rate of 93% and performing better than ever when compared with their peers around the state and nation. Florida students now rank in the top 10 in performance and lead the nation in overall improvement.
I look forward to our discussion on Brevard Public Schools on February 23. After adjusting my prior commitments, I have made myself available to participate in what I know will be an important discussion. I appreciate the personal apology from Dr. DiPatri for what he described as a ?political cheap shot? when he decided to handle a scheduling conflict in pubic instead of directly with me. Dr. DiPatri came to my office on January 27 and I accepted his apology because I understand now is the time for action and not politics.
As a product of a public school myself and a parent whose children attend Brevard County public schools, I believe that supporting our schools is one of my highest responsibilities as an elected official. As a teacher at the college level since 1993, I know the value of a first class education and have personally witnessed the quality of the students in my classroom improve each and every year. Since I was elected in the fall of 2000, I have visited our public schools over 400 times and have worked hard to understand the concerns of our teachers, students and parents.
In addition to personally visiting our schools I have chosen to personally contribute to them. Since 2002 I have donated $7800 of my personal money to our public schools. Last year I also voted to cut our own pay by 5% because in these tough economic times I felt it was not proper to cut the budget if I wasn?t willing to cut my own pay.
During challenging economic times, the Legislature is committed to providing the available financial resources for our students. One must also accept that our Florida Constitution requires that the Legislature maintain a balanced budget, and unlike Washington, D.C, we simply cannot spend money that we do not have.
During this economic downturn, we have prioritized our budget adjustments to protect vital programs. In the last two years, our budget has gone from $73.9 billion to $63 billion (15%). This is not a Washington, D.C. version of a cut (a slowdown in the increase), but a real cut, like the ones Florida families are making right now. Despite this reduction, which included the elimination of some major programs, K-12 education spending experienced only a 3% reduction. In real terms, if a school had a dollar to spend last year, this year they still have 97 cents to spend. In contrast, we cut our overall state budget from a dollar to 85 cents.
Since I began my tenure in the Legislature, Brevard County schools have seen a major increase in funding. From the 2001-02 school year to the 2008-09 school year, the district?s operating budget spending grew from $5,645 per student to $7,995 per student, an increase of 41%, while the total budget grew from $7,592 per student to $14,188 per student, an increase of 86%. Over this same period, the number of students in Brevard County grew by about 2%. Currently, a class of 20 students receives $159,100 in operating funds and over $282,000 in total tax dollars.
Due to Florida's broad public records law, most written communications to or from government employees regarding public education are public records. Therefore, this e-mail communication may be subject to public disclosure. [ and so it is! ]
MORE ON HORRIDOPOLOUS: <a href="http://floridasenatewatch.blogspot.com/2008/02/haridopolos-hates-honesty-ethics-uf.html">http://floridasenatewatch.blogspot.com/2008/02/haridopolos-hates-honesty-ethics-uf.html</a>