Florida’s universities will be further pitted against one another under a revised funding model approved by the state university governing board.
Florida’s public universities are rated based on criteria including graduation rates and tuition. These are just a few of the performance-based metrics the board of governors is looking to expand upon. Under a revised scale being pitched by the board, schools that don’t meet 26 of 50 metrics stand to lose one percent of their state funding. In addition, the three lowest performing schools, even if they get over 26 points, wouldn’t qualify for additional, performance-based funds. Florida Board of Governors Chairman Mori Housseini says targeting universities’ base funding is necessary if the system is going to sway lawmakers into giving schools more money:
“They say ‘look, if you want new money, you have to have skin in the game.”
But the new funding model is raising concerns from university presidents.
Florida State University last year received an extra $2.1 million under a simpler version of the performance funding system. It’s also one of only two so-called “preeminent” universities in Florida and stands to gain under the revised model. The board of governors is trying to force improvements in the system, but FSU president Eric Barron worries about the impact on smaller schools:
"This presents the likelihood that all the universities at the bottom will lose every year," he said.
Barron argues many of the issues the board is trying to address -- low graduation rates, a small number of science graduates and increasing salaries and job placements -- take longer than a year to fix, and those schools could continue to lose out for several budget cycles.
Last year, 11 of the state’s 12 universities split $20 million. But New College of Florida, Florida A&M and the University of West Florida would have received nothing under this year’s proposed changes. The Board of Governors approved the proposal Thursday and plans to take its suggestions to the Legislature. It’s also asking lawmakers to increase the performance funding pot to $50 million this year, and to put more than $320 million dollars into construction and maintenance projects that have been deferred for years.
There is not one penny for new construction in $321 million. We need $87 million for maintenance, $189 million for completion, and $55 million dollars for completion," Housseini said.
Historically, things like public school construction and maintenance projects have been funded through revenues made off of things like landlines. But the source of those dollars has dropped drastically in the past few years—leaving many projects incomplete or delayed. State Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam has proposed cutting business’ electricity taxes by half, and steering the rest of that revenue into the Public Education Capital Outlay, or PECO fund.
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