The Legislature has approved a $69.7 billion budget that will cut education spending by about $540 a student, or 7.9 percent.
Andy Ford, president of the Florida Education Association, the statewide teachers union, said the union is expecting about 20,000 teacher layoffs. He expects to see increased class sizes, older textbooks, and fewer course offerings.
“It’s going to hurt children,” he said.
Superintendent James Notter of Broward County Public Schools, the nation’s sixth largest school district, said money left over from a federal jobs fund from last year will help save about 350 jobs. But a $141 million budget shortfall means that about 1,400 teachers are being cut.
The district laid off 568 teachers last year.
“When does the dam break?” Notter said. “When do you break the spirit of your teachers? When does that point come?”
At Thurgood Marshall Elementary in Fort Lauderdale, art and physical education have been reduced, and it has taken longer to get certain students special services.
“I was told to save every pencil, because there’s just not enough money for school supplies,” said Sharon Hepburn, a fifth-grade reading teacher.
In California, school districts have been grappling with financial turmoil since the recession began.
General fund spending for K-12 schools has dropped over the past two years alone, from $46.2 billion to $36.8 billion in the current fiscal year, although Gov. Jerry Brown has proposed putting about $3 billion of an unexpected income tax windfall toward education spending in the coming year.
The recession has cost the jobs of 30,000 California teachers and 10,000 support staff, education officials said.
“We’re seeing the dismantling of what we used to enjoy as a solid comprehensive education,” said state Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson.