Pasco school budget committee ready to reconvene
The Pasco County School District faces a possible budget shortfall of $54 million for fiscal 2011.
School Board members have begun talking about potential spending cuts, with ideas ranging from the elimination of courtesy bus rides to employee furloughs.
Now a group of Pasco County school educators and administrators plans to get into the act.
The committee, created jointly by the superintendent's office and the teachers union last year, will have its first meeting of the year on May 13. The members will remain the same, United School Employees of Pasco president Lynne Webb said, because "to start from scratch with people who haven't been part of the discussion might bog us down."
Many teachers and other staff members haven't waited for the committee to get together to begin sending in their thoughts on the budget.
Among their biggest concerns: An administration proposal for all middle and high school teachers to begin teaching six of six class periods instead of five. Several have written in e-mails that they'd rather take other financial cuts first, a position that School Board members have said they understand but might not be able to grant as the change could save $12 million.
Parents also have begun emailing the district with their suggestions. One message has come through loud and clear in their comments — please leave sports programs and other extras alone. Board members have said they've heard that thought plenty, and now what they'd like are recommendations of where to cut, and not where not to cut.
The new state budget proposal projects Pasco will get $460.4 million in total state funding for general operations, up about 1 percent. That is not enough to cover rising costs plus the expense of meeting the final phase of the 2002 class size amendment, district officials have said.