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Skewed Education Funding Formula Favors 12 Big Florida Counties

July 20, 2017 - 3:30pm

It’s been said that education is "the key to unlock the golden door of freedom.” But Tallahassee has transformed that golden door into lead when it comes to the finances of many school districts across Florida.

Volusia County taxpayers, parents and students are getting robbed along with 54 other school districts in Florida.  A funding formula called the District Cost Differential (DCD) steals local tax dollars we send to Tallahassee and redistributes them to only a dozen counties that inexplicably wield the power to take the money because the state Legislature said they could.

The DCD was created in 2004 after the Florida Legislature initiated a study on funding formulas for the state’s 67 school districts. Since that time, numerous districts have found themselves sending more to Tallahassee than they get in return.  Counties like Volusia, Lake, Flagler, Osceola and Brevard, among others, are forced to subsidize wealthier districts like Broward, Duval, Miami-Dade and Palm Beach counties. 

Volusia County Schools has lost approximately $140 million under this legalized robbery. Lake County has lost some $57 million. Though Volusia ranked 13th and Lake County is ranked 19th in student enrollment, we are funded as if we are 56th and they are 66th. The inequity affecting each and every student is stark, damaging and clearly unjust.

Our students are left with fewer supplies, our teachers are denied additional salary increases, affected districts struggle to stay afloat while our taxpayers’ money is shifted to assist other counties which clearly don’t need our help. This Reverse Robin Hood scheme is educational socialism running amok and it’s educational malpractice that would even make a personal injury attorney blush.

University of Florida Professor Dr. David Denslow, who helped conduct the initial study, is on record acknowledging its imperfections and the need for a new approach.  I believe that the DCD should be put to rest permanently.  I support a change to state law to ensure that no school district receive less in state education funding than what it sends in local tax dollars to fund education. 

As chair of the Volusia County School Board and a mother with children in public schools, I am not willing to settle for more talk and studies. It’s a simple matter of math. I see an economic injustice that needs to be corrected. Our children have been denied equal protection under the law.

As a result I am committing every spare moment of my time to speak personally with other school boards, businesses, teachers, parents, taxpayers, associations and elected officials to support our effort to encourage the Florida Legislature to place the “DCD Elimination Amendment” on the ballot for Florida voters to decide.  The legislature can also amend state law at its upcoming session in January to make this simple but equitable change.

Florida has failed us with this detrimental funding formula. The time for wringing our hands is over. The time for rolling over has passed. The time for action is now!  I ask that you join with me to be an advocate for our students, our teachers and our school districts by standing united as one.

We demand that state lawmakers stop holding our children and their academic future hostage. We must hold our children harmless. Let the Florida voters decide. Let’s work together and ensure that the golden door of freedom, achievement and opportunity shine brightly for every student in every school district of Florida. #DCDtheft

Melody Johnson is the chairman of the Volusia County School Board.


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Total distraction. You want to uphold your political candidate while they allow public schools to go under funded. Then you want to blame the formula, because you are vested in the politicians that you voted for. Expect more in-fighting like this to happen. Each county can become their own state and we can say the heck with the great state of Florida.

$1.7 billion dollars being stolen from 55 school districts to assist 12? After 13 years time for the wealthy districts to stand on their feet and not stand on the backs of other taxpayers.

So what those who disagree with the contents of this article are saying is that students and teachers in smaller districts deserve to struggle because it is only fair that the bigger cities take the majority of the funding. Well we certainly thank you for your interesting opinion. Teaching is difficult no matter where. Teaching for less money and personally financially supporting a classroom to give your students the same opportunities as other districts stinks, but I do it because I love my students even when my own children live near the poverty line as a result of this ridiculous funding formula! This is disgraceful!

If every student if Florida deserve a good education, and the cost to the urban areas, to combat socioeconomics, negative effects of immigration, higher cost of living issues, etc, the Legislature is within its rights to move the money where needed to make things equal. Large counties pay for the roads in rural counties and hospitals in those areas, etc. it is called a trade off - do not be so inconsistent.

Is this a surprise? It is cultivation of votes. The problem is the Legislature thinks their job is to bring the bacon back to their district. (It is not their bacon.) Their job is to stop their District's bacon from being confiscated. Only elect your legislature based on that one single factor.

The government tells you that payment for those that are not paying for their own is socialism, except when they make the decision to give away your money. Do as they say, not as they do...and idiots keep voting for the same fools like good little sheep...

I thought their job was less government, NOT. That is the biggest lie they tell you to get the sheep votes. These are the idiots you voted for...

Is this a surprise? It is cultivation of votes. The problem is the Legislature thinks their job is to bring the bacon back to their district. (It is not their bacon.) Their job is to stop their District's bacon from being confiscated. Only elect your legislature based on that one single factor.

The author is Chair of the school board, but sends her children to private school. How is she still on the school board?

You need to actually READ the statements. Her quote said "with children in public school", there was no mention of private school.

It must be difficult for you to comprehend but the fourth to last paragraph states, "As chair of the Volusia County School Board and a mother with children in public schools...". My question is why are you even allowed to make an idiot of yourself.

No, if you reread her children go to the public schools!

Who are these top 12 Counties? By my estimate of knowing county populations, I'd say: Miami-Dade Broward Palm Beach Hillsborough Orange Pinellas Duval Polk Brevard Pasco Lee Sarasota ????????

Collier, Broward, Dade, Palm Beach, Orange, Hillsborough, Duval, Lee, Pinellas, Sarasota, Indian River and Monroe. One more county county will make it 13 per DOE.

Almost got the order correct, As of 2015 census data they are: Miami-Dade Broward Palm Beach Hillsborough Orange Pinellas Lee Polk Duval Brevard Volusia Pasco

Not sure who this UF professor is but the content of this article is plain dumb. Anyone with school accounting experience would know that the DCD is vital to the education system. It helps ensure that education is equitable to all students. Small districts give some of their funds to ensure that all students have equal access to educational opportunities. All I can say is to suck it up and don't be selfish. Strong education betters our state as a whole, and you the DCD benefits education as a whole in Florida.

Well even this UF professor (Dr. David Denslow) who was part of the actual study questions the validity of the formula. (Guess you forgot to read that)., it seems to validate the Chair. Also, if one county does not assist in another county's Fire or Police Department, why should this be different for schools?

Poor babies who are miserable that they could lose money. Good. You pay for your kids and we pay for ours. If the Constitutional Revision Commission puts it on the ballot for 2018, VOTE Yes and let the Dirty Dozen cry.

I think the division of funds is commensurate with the number of students in each County/District../ simplify, the more students..the more money for those Districts: X$ 'per head' across the State. (Isn't "equality" grand?!?) [As YOU say: "it's a simple matter of math"]

REDISTRIBUTION OF TAX REVENUES IS VITAL TO THE STATE. Sorry to those who feel underfunded - but we big Districts need your money to function. Our costs are already high and frankly - we don't care if you can't get supplies, our kids suffer because of high costs. Redistribution of tax revenues is critical . Spreading costs out statewide is fair. If we don't redistribute - more costly Districts lose out. So we all suck it up to make this work. Redistribution is something all school boards should understand anyway - most school boards are filled with Democrats. It's a way of life. Get over it Daytona.

that would mean the legislature would actually do something that makes sense and is right for a change... Good luck with that.

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