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Education news and notes from Tampa Bay and Florida

Pasco School Board to consider tentative budget



The Pasco County School Board entered into executive session at 3 p.m. Tuesday to give one final review of its possible employee raise offer before heading into a public hearing on the 2016-17 budget.

That spending plan totals $1.21 billion, with $595.9 million in the general operating account and the rest split among areas including debt service and capital projects. Employee salaries and benefits already make up the bulk of the general fund, at a proposed $421.2 million, and the board must determine whether it can give a full 3 percent raise as administrators have proposed.

The issue has been complicated by rising costs in other areas, and limited increases in local and state revenue. Budget officials were trying to find money to cover a $6.5 million gap between expected income and expenses, with about half coming from cash unspent in the past fiscal year.

They can't increase their tax rates, and much of the money is restricted in its use. So they've been trying to find ways to scale back in ways that allow raises to go forth, and don't hurt classroom instruction.

Within the $595 million general fund, just $8.9 million is listed for "district programs" that some board members have begun asking questions about. The largest item on that list is $2 million for Advanced Placement testing, with other forms of assessment claiming another nearly $1.4 million. The money also covers such things as athletic officials and transportation, AVID, band uniforms, Odyssey of the Mind and science fair.

CFO Olga Swinson is expected to explain her recommendations when the board has its hearing at 6 p.m. Then it will be up to the board to decide how to proceed. The final budget hearing will take place in September.

[Last modified: Tuesday, August 2, 2016 3:41pm]


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