As the result of a year-long, bipartisan initiative led by U.S. Congresswoman Stephanie Murphy of Winter Park, Fla, the State of Florida has received $95.8 million in federal funding to reimburse the State and county-based school districts for the additional costs they incurred during the 2017-2018 school year after taking in K-12 students from Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands displaced by major hurricanes. Of the $95.8 million, the State will retain $47.7 million and distribute $46.8 million to school districts. The public school system in Orange County, which enrolled about 4,000 displaced students, will receive $12,022,641, the most of any county in the state. The public school system in Seminole County, which enrolled about 500 displaced students, will receive $1,651,544. In total, 52 Florida counties will receive funding and 13 counties, including Orange and Seminole, will receive over $1 million.
Murphy spearheaded this effort to support students and schools over the course of nearly a year, working across party lines with the White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB), her colleagues in the U.S. House and Senate, the U.S. Department of Education, and the State of Florida. In February 2018, Congress approved the Bipartisan Budget Act, which converted Murphy’s initiative into law. The U.S. Department of Education allocated funding to Florida last month, and the State is now allocating funds to school districts.
“I’m proud to have secured these federal investments in our young people, helping to support Florida school districts that did the right thing and took in students displaced by Hurricane Maria,” said Murphy. “After last September’s hurricanes, tens of thousands of American families from Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands relocated to Florida, and thousands of children and youth enrolled in our schools after the school year had started. This required the State and counties to spend more money than they anticipated spending at the start of the school year. As a result of our effort in Congress, the federal government is now making our state and our school districts whole again.”
Other counties receiving significant funding under Murphy’s initiative include Osceola (approximately $5.0 million), Broward ($4.4 million), Dade ($4.2 million), Collier ($3.1 million), Palm Beach ($1.8 million), Polk ($1.7 million), Volusia ($1.4 million), Hillsborough ($1.4 million), Lee ($1.2 million), Lake ($1.2 million), and Pinellas ($1.2 million).
In addition to providing funding for K-12 schools, this Murphy-led initiative provided a total of $75 million in funding for colleges and universities around the country that enrolled displaced students. Murphy recently announced that the U.S. Department of Education allocated nearly $5 million to eight colleges and universities in Florida, including nearly $2 million to the University of Central Florida in Murphy’s district, to help them defray the unexpected cost of educating their new students. Murphy is currently working to help additional colleges and universities in the state apply for this funding.