New report puts Lake County at bottom in terms of student spending, teacher salaries

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LAKE COUNTY, Fla. —

There are new questions about the amount of money Lake County is spending on public education after a review comparing Lake County to nine other districts found the county spends the least per student and the least on teacher salaries.

The administration is not slamming the review, and in fact, the information contained in the 58-page report could change the way the district spends its dollars.

"We've been saying it for probably the last 10 years," said Stuart Klatte of the Lake County Education Association.

Klatte said Lake's teachers aren't paid enough and that the million-dollar budget review funded in part by the Bill Gates Foundation proves it. The review compared the Lake district with several others around the country and found teacher pay and spending per pupil at the bottom.

"If you look in there, we have the least amount of funding from all those districts they compare it to," said Chris Patton of Lake County Schools.

But Patton said the administration can use the study to find ways to move money around, pulling funding from one area to beef up another to boost student achievement.

Some say while comparisons to other school systems can be helpful, they may not always be fair.

"This is a low cost-of-living community," said Vance Jochim of the Lake County Fiscal Rangers. "A number of the data points they had were larger metropolitan areas. I don't know where I'd compare dollars, but I'd compare percentages."

Another part of the study will come in later this month.