No pet projects
It's one thing to tell lawmakers not to hurt the classroom when they slash the budget next month. It's another to give them an alternative. Several educators have called for a delay in paying teachers performance bonuses - an idea with zero traction, by the way - but little else has come forth publicly. Until now.
Pasco superintendent Heather Fiorentino (left), a former House Education Committee chair herself, has offered local lawmakers some guiding principles for a do-no-harm budget process. She would delay or cut member projects and new programs, and eliminate supplemental services provided privately, before cutting core services.
To help the process along, Fiorentino also has issued a provocative three-page list of possibilities that could get Capitol tongues wagging. Among them: the governor's mentoring initiative ($615,584), a green schools pilot project ($3-million), a new program to support minority and underrepresented student achievement ($7.125-million), and a virtual schools administration building ($8-million).
"We're trying to make suggestions of things to look at that would have less impact in the classroom and still meet the (budget) demands," Fiorentino tells the Gradebook, adding that she is not recommending anything except that lawmakers take a look at each line item.
She says she'd like to go to Tallahassee during session to make the point personally. But only if the trip isn't too costly, Fiorentino adds, as the district doesn't look like it can afford too much extra if budget trends remain as bad as they look.