Teachers union eyes Pinellas' $5.3 million 'cliff reserve'
To prepare for the day when federal stimulus money runs out, Pinellas district officials have squirreled away $5.3 million in next year’s proposed budget in a new pot of money they call the “cliff reserve.” The cliff is what many fear awaits the district two years from now, when $52 million in stimulus goes bye-bye.
But the union thinks the cliff reserve -- or at least some of it -- could be put to better use now, to get teachers a $4 million “step increase” in pay.
“$5.3 million would go a long way to solving our problems,” union executive director Marshall Ogletree told the Gradebook. “That is part of the answer to either the referendum gap (which is costing teachers $290 each) or step increases.”
The response from the district: “We owe it to the public and the school district to attempt to set up a reserve, of any amount,” said Doug Forth, the assistant superintendent for budget and resource allocation. “We’re going to work toward that.”
Given the size of the cliff, Ogletree said the size of the reserve is too small to be meaningful.
He also said that when the cliff comes to pass in 2011, the Legislature will have to find money to fill the gap in Pinellas and other districts. “I don’t think the Legislature’s going to cut their budget.”
Forth said the district would have liked the cliff reserve to be bigger than $5.3 million. But “that’s all we had left,” he said.
(Photo from www.magnum-mania.com)
Ron Matus, state education reporter