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Pinellas likely won't do furloughs after all



Pinellas school employees, sit down for this one.

Superintendent Julie Janssen told The Gradebook today that the school district’s deficit projections are $8 million better than anticipated - meaning, in all likelihood, that the painful furloughs proposed for Pinellas County’s biggest employer won’t happen.

Neither Janssen nor teachers union president Kim Black would say definitively Friday that furloughs are off the table - the two sides are set to formally bargain Monday - but their words left little doubt.

“What Steve is going to bring to the table is a much better offer,” Janssen said, referring to Steve Swartzel, the district’s chief negotiator.

“I think this news will help the employees sleep better this weekend,” said Black.

The shift in the district’s gloomy budget picture emerged in recent days, after its finance team tallied up the most recent financial figures for the 2009-10 school year, said Fred Matz, the chief financial officer.

The district’s fund balance turned out to be $2.8 million better than projected, revenues were $500,000 more and expenditures were $4.4 million less.

The additional amount that the district estimated it would have to sink into the state’s retirement fund also dropped, from $5.2 million to $4.6 million.

The result: A $26 million deficit shrank to about an $18 million deficit.

“We’ve always said the (budget) model, the cuts, are based on projections of where we end up,” Matz said. “Things could improve or things could get worse.”

Pulling furloughs off the table was “the hope all along,” Matz added. But it couldn’t be done until the final numbers arrived and showed how close to projections the district managed to get.

[Last modified: Friday, July 23, 2010 6:46pm]


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