If education, as they say, is worth every penny, then Miami-Dade County is investing wisely.
Increased teacher salaries, more protection against the COVID-19 pandemic and additional investments for academic acceleration highlight the recently approved record $7 billion-plus budget for the Miami-Dade County Public Schools District.
It’s also a win for taxpayers, who will see a decrease in the Fiscal Year 2021-2022 millage rate, among the lowest rates in the past 40 years, from 7.129 to 7.009.
“This year’s budget is one we can be proud of as it addresses the district’s most pressing issues during the COVID-19 pandemic, while reaffirming our longstanding commitment to protecting the classroom and our workforce,” Schools Superintendent Alberto M. Carvalho said.
The minimum starting salary for teachers is now set at $47,717, among the highest in Florida. It also provides staff with an employment guarantee while keeping healthcare costs low.
Security, mental health and counseling also are part of a plan to fund key commitments, such as instructional personnel, classroom support, health and safety, and innovation.
Miami-Dade is the fourth-largest school district In the country with more than 330,000 students and 50,000 adult learners. It also employs more than 41,000 people for nearly 400 schools, including 129 high schools.
Part of that $7 billion-plus total includes federal stimulus funds provided through the American Rescue Plan Act and the Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act.
The $9 billion-plus overall budget for Miami-Dade County will get its first Commission hearing Tuesday, Sept. 14 at 5 p.m. in Council Chambers. The final hearing is Sept. 28.
Last year’s School Board budget was $5.6 billion as distance learning became the norm in the spring of 2020.
In comparison, Broward County’s school budget in FY 20-21 was $5.4-plus billion for the state’s second-largest district. Palm Beach County’s school budget was $3.8 billion.
Last Thursday, the School Board approved a one-time stipend of $275 for full-time and some part-time employees to submit proof of vaccination within 60 days. Reportedly, Carvalho said about 84% of Miami-Dade public school teachers are vaccinated.
At least 13 Miami-Dade school employees, including four teachers and seven school bus drivers, have died from COVID-19 since Aug. 16. School began on Aug. 23 and the district voted to enact a mask mandate in defiance of Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis.
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