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Education news and notes from Tampa Bay and Florida

Pasco district leaders hunt for budget cuts



Pasco County School Board members knew they had given their administration a tough job when they asked for alternatives to cutting media specialists and literacy coaches from next year's budget.

"I guess I'm doing my best to make the superintendent's life miserable," board member Joanne Hurley told the Gradebook with a laugh.

But as the district slashes spending by $19.5 million, she and others said, the board must make certain that the decisions - though possibly unpopular - won't harm the core mission of education.

Superintendent Kurt Browning and his inner circle gathered Thursday to look at the options remaining.

"Right now we have good ideas, bad ideas, instructional, noninstructional, district, schools," said assistant superintendent Amelia Larson during a break. "We are looking at reductions vs. cuts. We are looking at the possibilities."

The target is to find at least $10 million more in cuts.

On Tuesday, the board approved several of the administration's recommendations toward the goal. Those included cutting five jobs at the district office, 10 ESOL resource teachers, 10 ESE staffing and compliance teachers, 10 adult education secretaries and two adult ed assistant principals. It agreed to scale back 74 teaching spots, knowing the district won't make class size requirements, and to drop 60 jobs associated with the temporary closures of Shady Hills and Quail Hollow elementary schools.

The board also authorized $240,000 in savings on utilities from closing Shady Hills and Quail Hollow, $757,000 in grants funds and $1 million in workers compensation by more closely scrutinizing claims.

That got the board only halfway there. Complicating matters, the board called it "irresponsible" to dip into reserves and other accounts for another year, saying the reductions must be savings that repeat from year to year.

Browning said he'd bring a proposal for the full $19.5 million back to the board in May.

[Last modified: Thursday, April 18, 2013 2:32pm]


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