Education

We're dedicated to telling you stories about policy and public spending, and how they affect students in Florida schools. Our WUSF News reporters team up with our public media partners in South Florida to bring you a more comprehensive look at learning.

Our longtime education coverage also includes work as part of StateImpact Florida. You can see prior coverage from that project here.

A bill to grant immediate independence to a new university in Polk County generated some passionate debate from its sponsor, Senate budget chief JD Alexander, R-Lake Wales.

With his voice cracking with emotion, Alexander again criticized USF President Judy Genshaft for what he called dragging her feet on creating Florida Polytechnic, which would be the state’s 12th university.

USF President Judy Genshaft expressed some relief after hearing that state Senators trimmed USF's share of its budget cut from nearly 60 percent to 23 percent. But she hopes the cuts won't last beyond the next year.

Even at the lower level, she says just about every state university will have to scramble to find enough money to continue their current level of operations.

We’ve been asked by several of our listeners about WUSF’s relationship to USF as the station covers the fight over budget cuts to the university. I’d like to take this opportunity to answer some of them.

Why don’t you put a disclaimer on every story you run on USF?

WUSF is part of the University of South Florida. I believe that is very clear to our audience.

USF is part of our call letters. We often announce that we’re a service of the University of South Florida.

USF President Judy Genshaft says there’s one positive side effect of almost having $128 million cut from the budget: seeing the Tampa Bay delegation and community rally around USF.

“We believe the University of South Florida is very strong and will remain strong. And we’ve shown this strength through the outpouring of comments and e-mails and calls,” she said.

“The legislators have heard very loudly that the University of South Florida system: Don’t mess with it.”

Senator JD Alexander has said the the way USF supporters have portrayed proposed budget cuts is unfair.

He says the cuts proposed for USF are justified because of the university's reserves and not that different from other similar institutions, such as UCF.

On Florida Matters, we interviewed USF President Judy Genshaft about how she's dealing with the budget fight and what she calls a "crisis."

Since the Florida Senate unveiled a budget that could lead to over 100 million dollars in cuts to the University of South Florida, reaction has been fast and furious.

When it came to the Senate's proposed budget, USF Vice Provost for Strategic Planning and Budget, Graham Tobin expected his university to take a hit--but not the kind of wallop the Senate delivered.

"We were anticipating some budget cuts given the mood of the state and the politicians, but the degree of change was significant, and, yes, there was some shock."

Some Tampa Bay lawmakers are reacting with anger and defiance to a Senate proposal to cut 58 percent of state funding for the University of South Florida.

Those proposed cuts are more than twice as big as the proposed reductions for other universities, according to an analysis by USF.

Senate Finance Chairman J.D. Alexander of Lake Wales pushed for the cuts after USF President Judy Genshaft opposed him on independence for USF Polytechnic.

Senator Mike Fasano of New Port Richey didn't mince words today in describing what he thinks of Alexander's actions:

The University of South Florida Board of Trustees is launching a campaign to convince the Florida State Senate not to impose a budget that would cut 58 percent of USF's funding. Other universities face cuts, but more in the 20 to 25 percent range.

At an emergency meeting last night, the trustees discussed the potential impact of the cuts, which include unfunded spending commitments for USF Polytechnic, which would immediate become independent under the Senate legislation.

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