Some Monroe County Facts Of Education


By John Andola


Some questions (and answers) for you about the education of Monroe County children.



1-Monroe County student population represents what percentage of the total state student population? 1.3% or .03% or .003% or 007%?



The Monroe County School District is by far the smallest district in the state of Florida. As such, it has little or no power in the state legislature for its special needs. As a matter of fact, among the 67 school districts in the state, 14 are among the largest school districts in the entire country. Monroe County student population represents only .003% of the entire state student population.



2-Of the billions of dollars collected by the Florida State Lottery, how much does Monroe County receive annually for each student? $25.90 or $59 or $290 or $416?



Many Florida State Lottery advertisements place an emphasis on the fact that lottery funds support education, $26 billion since the lottery began. One can easily get the impression that without the lottery our schools would have little or no funding. Lottery funding provides our district with less than $500,000 a year or approximately $59 per student. That represents .006% of the district’s 87 million dollar annual budget.



3-What is the total student enrollment for Monroe County Schools, including Charter Schools? 5,689 or 6,174 or 8,428 or 9,777?



This enrollment makes Monroe County the smallest school district in the state by far. Not only are we the smallest, but we are also the longest at about 120 miles, and that creates a special problem for financing. Consider a drive from Key West to Sarasota that will take about 6 hours. The first three hours are in Monroe County. During the next three hours, that drive will take you through six additional counties or six different school districts.



4-Of the total County student enrollment, what percentage is enrolled by Charter Schools? 1.4% or 5.6% or 12.4% or 14.5%?



Charter schools do have an important role to play in our overall educational system. Each charter school focuses on an important element of special interest to the population they serve. That special interest is often a unique approach to instruction, a focus on hands-on learning, an immersion in marine science and the environment, an emphasis on responsible citizenship or some other focus. Representing 14.5% of the students in the county, they pull funding away from the County Schools creating a financial challenge for the district.



5-The current Florida Education Finance Formula is how many years old?



41 years, 24 years, 14 years, 4 years?



What plan, financial or otherwise, that was designed and passed by the state legislature over 41 years ago can possibly still be viable or useful or meaningful today? Each year our state legislators tweak that 41-year-old plan in an attempt to make it work in the real world. The tweaking, of course, comes about with a heavy hand of special interests and amounts to a kind of financial gerrymandering. Tiny Monroe County wields little power in this game.

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