Pinellas aims to save millions by cutting one unit per school
In their ongoing search for budgetary savings, Pinellas school district officials have identified more than $8 million in additional cuts they hope to realize through staffing reductions at elementary, middle and high schools.
Superintendent Julie Janssen told board members at a workshop this morning that the reductions would not come at the expense of jobs.
Instead, Janssen said, the savings are based on what district officials hope will be the Legislature’s willingness to allow districts to use schoolwide figures rather than classroom numbers to meet the requirements of the class-size amendment for the 2009-10 academic year.
“What we’re doing is looking at unit allocation,” Janssen said. “If we’re making class size by half a child, we’re adding an extra child so we don’t need to add another class and another teacher.”
At middle and high schools where the district previously had been overstaffed, only the exact number of units needed will be allocated for the coming school year, Janssen said.
The expectation is that on average, schools will reduce their models by one unit each, resulting in an $8.3 million savings, said deputy superintendent Harry Brown. At some smaller elementary schools, there may be no reductions at all, Brown said, while some large high schools could see the reduction of two or more units.
For the first time, the board reviewed a budget model that includes $35 million in federal economic stimulus money. But district budget officials warned that even with the addition of the windfall, the district still is looking at a $19.4 million deficit.
Donna Winchester, Pinellas Education Reporter