Education

Escambia, Santa Rosa districts see funding boost

Military-connected student supplement aims to help districts provide services for students with family ties to military

The Navarre area is home to Santa Rosa School District's highest concentration of military-connected students. Additional state funds will help pay for guidance and other services students of military families may need.

As the local impacts of the recently inked state budget continue to rollout, one of the winners are the Pensacola metro area’s school districts.

In addition to increased state funding overall, districts that deal with students with family ties to the military are getting a funding boost.

It comes through something called the “military-connected student supplement.”

The funds are designed to help schools pay for additional services, counseling and academic help for students whose parents are deployed or who are affected by military moves. Don Gaetz, a former Okaloosa schools superintendent, said in an email news release about the supplement that he knows about those needs.

“Military families sometimes arrive new to Florida just a few days before school starts,” Gaetz wrote. “They may need screening to determine the class or course or grade that’s the best fit. They may need academic coaching. A parent may get orders out of the country the week before Christmas and the school needs to step up and provide counseling.”

Malcolm Thomas

Escambia School Superintendent Malcolm Thomas

Under the new state funding formula, Santa Rosa County schools will receive an extra $1,179,653 per year as a “federally connected student supplement.”

Escambia County schools are slated for $1,779,277 in supplemental funding.

Escambia Superintendent Malcolm Thomas said the money is a supplement to the district’s general funds, as an allocation intended to offset the loss of property taxes for federally owned lands.

Santa Rosa Superintendent Tim Wyrosdick said all told, 3,580 people in his district who are affected by the presence of the military.

Of those, 2,498 students have parents on active duty, and 1,047 parents who are employed on military property.

“Navarre certainly has the highest population of students affected by our military bases. They are also our fastest growing population, both in students enrolling in schools and individuals moving to our county,” Wyrosdick said.

“Second would be Pace followed closely by Milton. Recently, we have seen a tremendous growth in elementary ages students in the Navarre area and much of this growth is attributed to the growth of our military population.”

Tim_Wyrosdick

Santa Rosa School Superintendent Tim Wyrosdick

Wyrosdick said the additional state funds will cover programs including military liaison counselors, transition counselors and guidance counselors who serve the needs of military dependent children.

“Military children face issues that are unique and are often the result of multiple deployments or reassignments of parents,” Wyrosdick said. “Often time, their needs are immediate and it requires a great deal of time and energy to make certain their transfer in and out of our schools is seamless. Their parents make tremendous sacrifices and meeting student needs (both academic and social/emotional) is a high priority for Santa Rosa County.”

The district will see an overall increase of $8 million in its budget, which for the 2015-2016 school year is $181,014,246.

Wyrosidck said when you remove funds restricted for specific use by state government, he will have nearly $5 million to employ additional teachers to accommodate growth.

His plans now call for hiring 30 more teachers to accommodate growth.