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Education news and notes from Tampa Bay and Florida

Things are getting tighter



School superintendents got the word in a conference call with K-12 Chancellor Cheri Yecke this morning - expect at least a 4 percent budget cut for the 2007-08 fiscal year.

It's still not clear whether the reduction will come off last year's revenue or from this year's projected amount. But local officials are already in scramble mode.

"That for Pasco County means at least $12-million," Pasco superintendent Heather Fiorentino told her School Board during a regularly scheduled meeting afterward. "We don't know if it's $12 million from last year or $12-million from what is projected."

She was hopeful that the DOE will send out more guidance before the board's budget workshop tomorrow. In the meantime, Fiorentino said, money talks with the district employees will be suspended. To make cuts official, lawmakers would have to take a vote. They are expected to have a special session in September.

(The Gradebook will try to get more details from the state later today.)

UPDATE: Deputy Commissioner Linda Champion tells the Gradebook that the 4 percent budget cuts, which remain a proposal only, would affect the 2007-08 proposed revenue and not last year's amounts. The superintendents got the alert now so they can proceed with care as they make their spending plans and negotiate employee contracts. In all, about $500-million is on the table, Champion says.

"It's trying to exercise an abundance of caution here until we know what actions can be taken," Champion said.

The idea of cutting back already tight budgets isn't ideal, said Bill Montford, executive director of the Florida Association of District School Superintendents. But at least the heads-up came early, while districts actually have some wiggle room.

"It's certainly not too early," Montford said. "But it's definitely better today than tomorrow."

[Last modified: Tuesday, May 25, 2010 9:19am]


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