By Desmond Blackburn | Superintendent, Brevard County Public Schools
In today’s political climate, it is rare to hear praise and appreciation for our legislators, but today, I want to change that. The 2016 Florida legislative session has concluded, and the Brevard legislative delegates demonstrated their commitment and support for Brevard Public Schools with two initiatives that will significantly contribute to the welfare of our students and the county.
I want to personally thank Speaker of the House Steve Crisafulli, Senate President Andy Gardiner, Senator Thad Altman, Representative Ritch Workman, Representative Tom Goodson and Representative John Tobia for their work on behalf of our community and the state of Florida. I would also like to recognize the contributions of Sen. Don Gaetz, representing Northwest Florida, for his work towards this effort.
The first initiative Brevard legislators championed was to provide additional support for school districts in counties with large sections of tax-exempt federal land or institutions. The Federally Connected Student supplement was first placed in the 2015-2016 budget specifically to help districts that serve families of U.S. employees. For Brevard, this resulted in an additional $2.6 million dollars for the 2015-2016 school year, however this allocation was approved for one year only.
Recognizing how essential this funding is for the support of our families serving at locations such as NASA and Patrick Air Force Base, we knew we needed to work diligently to make this funding source a part of Florida’s statutory language. Through the tireless efforts of our Brevard legislators, this supplement is now permanent, creating much-needed and sustained support for the families that serve our nation.
Second, through interactions with many of you, I have come to appreciate that growing our manufacturing base is a top priority for local leaders. Hence, preparing students in manufacturing skills to support Brevard’s industry has become essential. Brevard Public Schools partnered with CareerSource Brevard to submit a one-time local funding request; an initiative with backing from the Brevard Economic Development Commission, along with companies representing local aviation, aerospace, manufacturing, and machining.
To support the implementation of two new career and technical education programs – manufacturing/machining technology and aviation maintenance – the Florida Legislature approved a one-time allocation of $500,000 as part of the 2016-2017 budget. These programs are being developed in direct response to the immediate and on-going need for a local manufacturing workforce pipeline that will develop necessary skills beginning at the high school level.
I look forward to growing relationships with our government officials to build a brighter future for Brevard County.
These two initiatives demonstrate that when we work to serve a common mission that benefit the students and community, positive actions are the result.
While as American citizens we have a right to be critical of our elected officials, I believe we have an even greater responsibility to recognize and thank them for outstanding efforts.
Thanks again and please know that I will work to ensure your investment in BPS is effectively and efficiently put to good use for our babies!