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Hernando among lowest-funded school districts

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Published:   |   Updated: October 20, 2013 at 09:44 AM

BROOKSVILLE - Per student, Hernando County ranks 11 out of 67 in least-funded school districts in the state of Florida.

According to 2011-12 Florida Department of Education data, Hernando County receives an average of $672 less funding per student for daily operations costs than the state average.

Hernando County receives $8,263 per student, the data shows. By comparison, Citrus schools receive $9,107 per student in state funding, Pasco schools receive $8,617 per student, Pinellas receives $8,854 per student and Hillsborough receives $9,191 per student.

If Hernando received the median level of funding in the state - $8,935 - the district's 21,714 students would receive about $14.6 million more annually.

"We are so severely underfunded just in comparison to the counties receiving the median level of funding," said Gregg Laskoski, a concerned citizen with children who work in the education field. "That is not something that the school district can afford to be precluded from."

The school board has scheduled a workshop about the funding formula, which the district acknowledges to be a big cause of the its underfunding.

According to media relations specialist Roy Gordon, there is no specific part of the formula that is the basis of November's workshop but rather a general overview of how state funding is determined, and then comparing Hernando's funding to that of other districts.

"The concern is we do receive considerably less than even neighboring counties," he said. "There is a formula in place that is used, and I do believe that is going to be the theme of (the discussion)."

Laskoski said he doesn't expect the district's 30-year-old funding problem to be resolved in one afternoon, but once the district's leadership can wrap their heads around the severity of the problem, that creates a path for corrective action.

"I'm just very grateful for superintendent (Lori) Romano's assistance with this, and for (school board member) Gus Guadagnino," he said. "He brought it up at the last school board meeting, and Romano announced it would be on Nov. 5, and this is a step I've been waiting to see for years, and believe me: it's very welcome."

The discussion is scheduled for a 2 p.m. workshop on Nov. 5 at the district office.

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