Pasco superintendent proposes $16M in cuts
The biggest loser in Pasco County's efforts to cut its budget for next year would be full compliance with the 2002 class-size reduction amendment. Superintendent Heather Fiorentino (left) has recommended not filling teaching positions aimed at getting every classroom to the limits set forth in the amendment, instead targeting school averages, as lawmakers allowed during the recent legislative session. That would save the district about $11-million.
But one key item that she didn't propose on paper is likely to loom large over the discussions to come. She did not include any mention of pay raises. Fiorentino told the Gradebook she intends to recommend that the board negotiate with the United School Employees of Pasco to have no annual raises based on years of service, a savings of more than $5-million, and no cost of living raises.
"To be able to preserve the jobs and the benefits, we will have to negotiate that," Fiorentino said. "We'd be able to maintain our people where we are today, which is better than most districts."
In a letter issued Friday, USEP president Lynne Webb praised the administration's efforts to find savings in the general operating budget, which was about $527-million this year after a mid-year $10-million reduction. But Webb questioned the $16-million cutting target, while also reminding Fiorentino that employees "have made it clear that they are expecting to be paid their step increases."
To see Fiorentino's proposed budget cuts, click here. To see her memo to the School Board, click here. To read the USEP's letter to the superintendent, click here. And be sure to check tomorrow's St. Petersburg Times or tampabay.com for our full story.