School receives millions in FTE funds


The school recently received more than $6 million in FTE funding, which the administration will use toward the facilities, materials and staff.

“An FTE [Full-Time Equivalent] is basically a student,” Principal Rick Fleming said. “At West Shore we have an enrollment of [936] students, meaning we have [936] FTEs. We get about [$6,800] per student per year.”

The administration uses various program cost factors to determine FTE.

“We calculate how many hours a student is in school based on their schedule, and schools receive funding based on that number,” Assistant Principal Glenn Webb said. “Additional funding is given for students that receive Exceptional Student Education services. Some schools have students with profound disabilities and require extra services to support their education.”

How FTE funding is calculated depends on the state. Massachusetts, whose state population is around 15 million less than Florida’s, provides $17,000 per pupil.

This money can only be spent on specific needs, including “utilities, salaries, program and textbook costs, computer hardware and other incidentals,” according to Fleming. Much of this money supplements the entire staff with bonuses.

“We come up with a formula for that,” Fleming said. “It’s prorated based on how many hours the staff will work. It serves as a morale booster for our people to work hard, and to help the students achieve results.”

Fleming said this allocation is essential to support teachers.

“There’s not really a need to spend it on anything else other than our teachers because they get paid so little in comparison to other professions,” he said.

According to, the average public school teacher salary in Florida is $52,813 as of last month, but the range typically falls between $44,112 and $64,401.

West Shore has around 939 students, which impacts FTE funds.

“Compared to [other] junior/senior high schools, we are on the low end, simply because of our population,” Webb said.

Fleming said this is likely because of the size of the school’s campus.

“You have to remember that West Shore is housed in a school that is an old junior high school,” he said. “[Since] we get 800 to 1,000 applications for our lottery, we would be able to swell to 1,500 students or 1,800, but it’s just not in the cards because of the capacity of our facility.”

Another factor to consider is RLE, a Florida property tax that raises money for schools. The formula for calculating it accounts for county population and tax revenue, which creates a problem for Brevard.

“The [Florida Education Funding Program] helps take all the money from the state and distributes it equitably to all the counties,” Fleming said. “Brevard County is at a disadvantage because we have all this land that’s government land, so it’s not taxed.”

Despite its complexity, Fleming said he hopes others can make sense of FTEs.

“My personality is kind of an arranger, and what an arranger does is they take complex information and they try to simplify it so that everybody can understand it,” he said. “I’ve been doing it so long that I know all the laws and I know how those formulas work. I just want to explain it in a way that hopefully [others] understand it better.”

By Rhea Sinha