Planning for a shortfall
We've heard talk for months now about just how bad the budget looks for Florida and, by extension, its school districts. Many district leaders threatened that the pending cuts could be ugly, but they were short on specifics. Several said they wanted to wait until after the FCAT ended, or until after lawmakers showed their hands, before getting down to the details.
That time has come. And it's starting to look ugly. News reports are using terms like "painful" and noting that the cuts might come even from the place that schools least want that pain to be felt - the classroom.
Sarasota was among the first to reveal its plans. They included a proposal to eliminate at least 175 positions while cutting about $20-million in spending, the Herald-Tribune reports.
Layoffs appear likely, too, in Duval County, which is trying to deal with nearly $90-million in lost revenue and rising costs, the Florida Times-Union reports. Lee County plans to slash 150 jobs as part of its effort, as well, the Naples Daily News reports.
Lee board chair Jeanne Dozier noted that 2010 looks to be even worse: "Putting it as a fiasco, I think, is putting it lightly," she said.
Pasco superintendent Heather Fiorentino has said her expectation is that districts will get funded at the same level as in 2006-07 for next year. For a growing district like Pasco, that's tough enough. But most of the state's districts are shrinking, meaning the actual amount they get will decrease. And with each revenue estimating conference, the numbers look worse.
Stay tuned. The Senate's education appropriations committees meet today.