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Education news and notes from Tampa Bay and Florida

Pinellas budget looking better

Weeks of bad news about the Pinellas school district’s budget took a slight turn for the better tonight. Superintendent Julie Janssen announced in a 4:56 p.m. memo to employees that she was killing a proposal to cut 37 elementary school guidance counselors. She also said other employees may face fewer furlough days than anticipated because $5 million was being squeezed from other parts of the budget.

Click on the attachment below to see the latest spread sheet showing proposed budget cuts. Read on for the full text of Janssen's memo.

Dear PCS colleagues,

For weeks, you’ve heard nothing but grim news about our budget situation. Today, I have some details to share with you that are a little more encouraging.

First of all, the plan to reduce the staffing model for elementary guidance counselors to .5 unit per school is off the table. Rather than seeing a reduction, our elementary schools will continue to have the same level of service they had this year.

Additionally, I have decided to revisit all departments, such as transportation, communications, and student assignment, and ask for 10 percent of their discretionary budgets. We expect to recoup $2 million with this exercise while holding schools harmless.

And finally, we learned Wednesday that we can move a portion of our operating costs into our capital budget, thus freeing up another $3 million. The amount is in addition to what was already included in previous renditions of the proposed cuts.

Bottom line: The 4.51 days of unpaid leave per employee (on average) that we were looking at earlier in the week is beginning to shrink. Our current projections show 10-month instructional personnel with three days of unpaid leave and 10-month support staff with two days of unpaid leave. (Please keep in mind that any unpaid leave would have to be bargained.)

Attached to this e-mail you will find a spreadsheet listing budget cuts as of 5 p.m. Wednesday. While the situation is changing hourly, this is the document that the School Board will receive at the May 26 board meeting. Know that even though we are required by law to forward this document to the board today, we will continue to search until the last possible moment for ways to lower expenditures to minimize the impact on our employees.

Thank you for your patience and support as we work together through these difficult times.


[Last modified: Thursday, May 19, 2011 7:28pm]


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