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Education news and notes from Tampa Bay and Florida

Budget cuts loom for Pasco County schools, superintendent says

"Nothing is off the table," superintendent Kurt Browning tells the Pasco County School Board about possible budget cuts.

Times file photo

"Nothing is off the table," superintendent Kurt Browning tells the Pasco County School Board about possible budget cuts.

Pasco County schools stand to get $11.7 million more in state funding for 2017-18, but that isn't stopping district officials from talking about spending cuts.

"We were one of the few districts to get new revenue based on student growth," superintendent Kurt Browning told the School Board on Tuesday. Without that, "we would have started in the hole about $2 million."

He observed that the state Legislature slightly increased overall K-12 funding, but decreased the base student allocation on which general operations are based. Increases in employee retirement benefit funding is going to eat up a chunk of what the district stands to receive, Browning said, and other fixed costs will consume the rest.

Those include insurance benefits, new school openings, and rising charter school enrollment.

After taking into account those expenses, chief finance officer Olga Swinson said, "We're really in a deficit of $8.7 million that we need to find."

The ideas for savings are similar to those taken into consideration in past years: Cuts to athletics, salary supplements, and extended day and year programs; furlough days, school closings, job freezes and department reductions.

"Bottom line is, nothing is off the table," Browning told the board.

Browning said he did not want to editorialize, except, "In a year when the state is not in economic crisis, we should not be in this economic crisis."

He also noted that, under the state's proposed plans, the district would have to give $737,000 in capital outlay millage revenue to charter schools.

The board plans future budget discussions as the process evolves. Gov. Rick Scott has yet to receive or act upon the Legislature's budget.

[Last modified: Tuesday, May 16, 2017 6:20pm]

    

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