The bipartisan panel begins a year of looking at the question: Is the state meeting its constitutional obligation to schools?
By Associated Press
Published January 22, 2004
TALLAHASSEE - A group taking a look at the bottom-line needs of schools listened Wednesday to administrators and teachers talk about what it will take to provide high-quality education.
The Constitutional Accountability Commission heard from a district superintendent, a school board member, a principal, a teacher and a parent. More money wasn't something they mentioned a lot. But several speakers pleaded for stability in policies and programs and more local control.
"What frustrates us as superintendents is that the rules keep changing," said Wakulla Schools superintendent David Miller.
Jane Gallucci, chairwoman of the Pinellas County School Board, had similar input: "Stability. Please, stability. Give me stability."
Miller also said teacher pay is too low, and he and Candy Dearing, an elementary school principal in Bradenton, both said the time has come to lengthen the school day and school year.
The Florida School Boards Association created the commission to study the demands of the Florida Constitution.
In 1998, voters amended the Constitution to describe education as a "fundamental value" of the state and make it "a paramount duty of the state" to provide for "high-quality" public schools.
With 60,000 new students a year, class size reduction, higher prices for gas and utilities and other expenses, current funding isn't adequate, according to Wayne Blanton, executive director of the School Boards Association.
"We're trying to figure out where do you go from here ... what is adequate?" Blanton said.
The 31-member bipartisan commission is to issue a report next January. The panel is co-chaired by former Attorney General Bob Butterworth, a Democrat, and former Comptroller Bob Milligan, a Republican.