Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Hernando School Board gets good news, bad news on 2012-13 budget

BROOKSVILLE — Hernando School Board members on Tuesday received what might pass for good news in these tough financial times.

The district's estimated shortfall for next year's budget is about $2.6 million, much lower than the nearly $7 million deficit chief financial officer Desiree Henegar had projected in recent weeks. The smaller gap is the result of dollars the district will carry forward into next year by leaving vacant positions open and using long-term substitute teachers.

The bad news: Most of the cost-cutting ideas superintendent Bryan Blavatt brought to the board, such as eliminating middle school sports and asking unions to forgo automatic annual raises, would be unpopular with employees, students and parents.

On top of that, officials say, the school property tax rate is expected to go up.

The state increased school funding this year, but the district will still be forced to operate at 2003 levels, with estimated general fund revenues of about $162 million, Henegar said. Meanwhile, the cost of meeting state mandates and other expenses, such as electricity and fuel, continue to rise.

One option, Henegar said, would be to reduce the district's rainy-day fund and divert it to operating costs. That would take a roughly $1.4 million chunk out of the shortfall. But it would also put Hernando on a state watch list for districts that let their reserve fund fall below 3 percent of the general fund.

Other options will require negotiations with the district's unions, Blavatt said.

"We're going to need the cooperation of others," he said.

Suspending the automatic annual "step" increase for teachers and noninstructional employees would save about $2 million.

Another idea on the list was to suspend another two paid holidays for the 2012-13 year to save $850,000. But by Monday evening, after Henegar had prepared Tuesday's presentation, that was no longer an option.

As part of a contract agreement reached Monday with the Hernando Classroom Teachers Association, the district will pay teachers for one of the two paid holidays that had been tentatively suspended in the current budget year. The district also agreed to take off the table the idea to suspend any paid holidays next budget year.

As part of the deal, the teachers union will help put a $200,000 dent in the projected shortfall by helping devise a plan to cut by 20 percent the overall cost to pay teachers supplemental stipends for extra duties such as coaching athletic teams.

Board Vice Chairman Matt Foreman suggested that the board not publicly discuss any cost-saving ideas that would involve negotiations with the union. His fellow members agreed.

But that strategy also cut off discussion on ideas to eliminate middle school sports (saving nearly $200,000) or to suspend high school junior varsity sports (saving about $220,000), because those programs involve supplemental pay.

"I think it's a very thin list (of proposed cuts) and doesn't give a chance for other ideas that might be out there," teachers union president Joe Vitalo said after the meeting. "They're looking at placing it back on us."

School principals are already making painful decisions.

Blavatt has directed principals to cut their respective staffing levels by 10 percent, saving about $3.1 million in the 2012-13 budget. District departments are doing same and trimming other expenses, too, for a savings of about $1.4 million.

The state, not local school boards, sets the local school tax rate, based on taxable property value. The state had projected Hernando County's taxable value to increase by .01 percent.

The Hernando County property appraiser's good-faith estimate, however, predicts a roughly 6.5 percent drop. If that holds, Henegar said, the total school tax rate will likely be set at 7.93 mills, or $793 for a $125,000 home with a $25,000 homestead exemption. A property owner with the same value last year paid $750.

The first public hearing on the district's 2012-13 budget is set for July 31.

Tony Marrero can be reached at (352) 848-1431 or [email protected]

Hernando School Board gets good news, bad news on 2012-13 budget 06/05/12 [Last modified: Tuesday, June 5, 2012 8:31pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Richard Spencer coming to town? What UF can learn from other schools

    College

    With Richard Spencer's controversial visit to the University of Florida quickly approaching, some UF and Gainesville police officers boarded a plane bound for Berkeley.

    Thousands of people, many of them college students, gather for a vigil on the University of Virginia campus in Charlottesville, Va. on Aug. 16 -- four days after a Unite the Right rally that led to clashes and the death of a woman. In advance of an appearance Thursday at the University of Florida by white nationalist Richard Spencer, the school is looking at what happened in Charlottesville and other venues where controversial speakers have visited. [Jason Lappa | The New York Times]
  2. Trigaux: On new Forbes 400 list of U.S. billionaires, 35 now call Florida their home

    Personal Finance

    The latest Forbes 400 richest people in America was unveiled Tuesday, with 35 billionaires on that list calling Florida home. That's actually down from 40 Florida billionaires listed last year when a full 10 percent listed declared they were Floridians by residence.

    Edward DeBartolo, Jr., shopping center developer and  former San Francisco 49ers Owner, posed with his bronze bust last year during the NFL Hall of Fame Enshrinement Ceremony in Canton, Ohio. DeBartolo remains the wealthiest person in Tampa Bay according to the Forbes 400 list released Tuesday. 
[Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images]
  3. Today he secures Bucs games; 30 years ago he played in them

    Bucs

    TAMPA —- Whenever the Bucs play a home game, Sankar Montoute is on hand to supervise more than 50 officers from the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office on duty at Raymond James Stadium.

    Sankar Montoute, who oversees Homeland Security for the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office, was a replacement player for the Bucs during the 1987 strike. 
Montoute, who had a sack and interception in the same NFL game, oversees the 50-plus officers who work at Bucs games, most of whom have no idea he played. [Times files (1987)]
  4. Florida woman weighing 325 pounds charged with killing girl by sitting on her

    Crime

    PENSACOLA — A 325-pound (150-kilogram) Florida woman is charged with killing her 9-year-old cousin by sitting on the child as punishment.

    This Oct. 14, 2017 photo made available by the Escambia County Sheriff's Office, Fla., shows Veronica Green Posey under arrest. Posey is charged with killing her 9-year-old cousin by sitting on the child as punishment. Posey, who weighs 325 pounds, first punished the girl with a ruler and metal pipe before sitting on her for at least 10 minutes. [Escambia County Sheriff's Office via AP]
  5. Girl, 8, got on 'tippy toes' to peer over cruise ship railing, then fell to her death

    Accidents

    MIAMI — A family cruise to paradise turned into a nightmare on Saturday, when an 8-year-old tumbled over the inner railings of a ship and fell to her death.

    Friends and family mourn Zion Smith, the 8-year-old girl who fell to her death aboard a Carnival cruise in Miami this weekend. [Image from Facebook]