What to do with $11 million?
The clock is ticking for the Pasco School Board to finalize its 2010-11 budget, and still many items remain unresolved in the balancing act.
One of the key questions — What will the board do with the approximately $11 million it expects to receive in a second round of federal stimulus funds?
District officials have made clear their unwillingness to spend this one-time source of money on repeating costs, such as raises. But they've made the same argument about using the money to eliminate the need for a furlough day, and more than one person has noted that a furlough is essentially a one-time pay cut, not a recurring expense.
This matters because the furlough, or unpaid holiday, or pay cut (take your pick in naming it) has arrived on the bargaining table for Pasco's teachers and noninstructional staff. United School Employees of Pasco representatives have yet to accept, reasonably arguing that the one-time stimulus money could cover the one-time pay cut, eliminating the need.
The School Board has scheduled an executive session for next week Tuesday to talk about just this type of issue and to set a course of action. The board also has some other contract-related decisions to make, ones that affect millions in the budget. Still outstanding is the amount the board will require employees to pay for health insurance. The board's early retirement plan and its projected $4 million savings have yet to come to fruition, either.
In the end, a different set of cuts could end up emerging, if the furlough idea disappears and the early retirement option never materializes. District officials have been mum on what those might be, saying everything rides on negotiations. Any suggestions?