Pasco County school officials examine spending priorities
Leaders of four Pasco County school district departments introduced ideas Tuesday to reorganize their operations, saying they'd become more efficient and effective.
Their ideas included the addition of two new positions, costing an estimated $130,000.
In supporting the proposals overall, superintendent Kurt Browning cautioned that the two posts, while important, might not make the final cut in fiscal 2016-17 budget plans. Several department heads and school principals have made new spending requests for the coming year, he said, and the district cannot afford them all.
Even with the Legislature's slight increase of education funding, Browning said, Pasco County schools stand to have just $4 million to spend on new items, after covering the rising cost of existing expenses.
"We're trying to in a very lean year prioritize those things that will give us the biggest bang for the buck," Browning told the School Board. "We're having some really tough discussions."
One thing he made clear is the administration's desire to put more money into salaries.
"I'm ready to give them money," Browning said in an interview. "I'm ready to talk about raises."
After some give and take, the United School Employees of Pasco has agreed to begin contract negotiations the week of April 18. President Kenny Blankenship had balked initially at an early start to talks, saying he did not want to put more stress on teachers who sit on the negotiating team during testing season.
"I'm good with it," he said of the schedule, also expressing enthusiasm over the superintendent's repeated statement that he again wants to offer raises.
The School Board plans an executive session to discuss its bargaining strategy on April 19. The district finance team is conducting budget review meetings in mid-May.