Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

In welcome change, Hernando school district expects a budget surplus and no cuts for schools

BROOKSVILLE — The Hernando County School District's budget forecast for the coming school year calls for no additional cuts for schools and — for the first time in a while — no budget shortfall.

It's a welcome relief.

Over the past two years, Hernando schools have been forced to make consecutive rounds of 10 percent cuts in order to cover budget deficits. It initially looked like this year might not be much different. Superintendent Bryan Blavatt asked school administrators to look for ways to trim an additional 5 percent for the 2013-14 school year to cover an estimated $4 million shortfall.

But the current forecast, which is still subject to fluctuations, no longer calls for those cuts.

One factor is that the district is beginning with a $7.1 million carryover from 2012-13. District officials expect to end 2013-14 with roughly $4.7 million in reserve — about 3.04 percent of estimated general fund revenues.

The surplus is important. Districts that allow their reserve fund to fall below 3 percent are placed on a state watch list.

"It's by the skin of our teeth," said Blavatt. "It would be great if everything pans out."

Funding per student increased $422.49 to $6,582.73 and, overall, the district's 2013-14 budget for the general fund is estimated at $167.34 million, up from $153.12 million last year.

"It definitely is better," said Heather Martin, the district's executive director of business services. "It certainly looks better than it has the past two (years)."

But she cautioned: "We are certainly not out of tough financial times by any means."

The district is also facing some new expenses this year, including the money needed for the automatic annual raises built into union contracts, an increased contribution to the Florida Retirement System and the need to pay off bonds issues. The salary increases and increased retirement contribution will cost roughly $5 million.

Although Blavatt isn't asking school administrators to make any cuts, individual schools will still experience some shrinking due to declining enrollment throughout the district and normal staff attrition. The state projects Hernando will lose about 160 full-time equivalent students for the coming year.

Martin said the district cut district-level departments 10 percent for 2013-14, which follows several years of trimming.

"We're able to offer less resources, which is a lot of it," she said. "We've already started to impact our services."

She said, for example, the time it takes to process requests from schools is higher.

"I don't want to get to a point where people get the feeling that we're out of the financial crunch," she said. "It certainly has not gone away."

But the fact that schools won't have to take an additional 5 percent cut is good news.

Principals across the district have said they already had cut everything they could.

"We're down to bare bones," Springstead principal Susan Duval said in May when asked about the potential for additional cuts. "It's most difficult. It's extremely difficult."

The School Board on Tuesday will also hear the first presentation on preliminary property tax rates.

The total school tax rate will likely be set at 7.54 mills, or $754 for a $125,000 home with a $25,000 homestead exemption. A property owner with the same value paid about $745 last year.

The board workshop on Tuesday will be the first time the 2013-14 budget has been discussed publicly, which is later than normal.

The district has had to prepare the budget without a chief financial officer. Former CFO Desiree Henegar resigned in January, and the district has been unable to fill her position despite two searches.

"We haven't added staff," said Blavatt. "The staff has been really pressured. They've done a great job getting to this point. It really is to their credit."

Danny Valentine can be reached at or (352) 848-1432. On Twitter: @HernandoTimes.

.fast facts

The Hernando County School Board will hear a presentation on the 2013-14 budget forecast during a workshop at 2 p.m. Tuesday at district headquarters, 919 N Broad St., Brooksville.

There will be two public hearings on the budget:

• 5 p.m. July 30, district headquarters

• 6 p.m. Sept. 17, district headquarters

The 2013-14 budget will be submitted Sept. 20 to the Florida Department of Education.

In welcome change, Hernando school district expects a budget surplus and no cuts for schools 06/21/13 [Last modified: Friday, June 21, 2013 7:18pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Jones: Bucs need success to get national respect


    Tampa Bay Times columnist Tom Jones offers up his Two Cents on the world of sports.

    No respect

    Tampa Bay Buccaneers head coach Dirk Koetter walks the field during the second day of mandatory minicamp at One Buccaneer Place in Tampa, Fla., on Wednesday, June 14, 2017. LOREN ELLIOTT   |   Times
  2. Hopes fade after landslide destroys Chinese village (w/video)


    Crews searching through the night in the rubble left by a landslide that buried a mountain village under tons of soil and rocks in southwestern China found 15 bodies, but more than 110 more people remained missing.

    Vehicles and people line a road leading to the site of a landslide in Xinmo village in Mao County on Saturday in southwestern China’s Sichuan Province. More than 100 people remained missing after the village was buried under tons of rocks and soil.
  3. Rookie Jake Faria dissatisfied with performance in Rays' loss to Orioles

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — The rookie pitcher walked to his locker Saturday after tossing the fourth quality start in as many tries to begin his career. He held the potent Orioles bats to three runs and for six innings gave his team a chance to win.

    Orioles third baseman Manny Machado tags out the Rays’ Mallex Smith at third after a rundown in the first inning.
  4. Thousands converge in two St. Pete locations celebrating LGBT rights

    Human Interest

    ST. PETERSBURG — Tom Rockhill didn't know what to expect Saturday, but by noon people were knocking on the door of his bar Right Around the Corner in Grand Central.

    (From left to right) Emma Chalut 18, gets a rainbow sticker on her cheek from her sister Ellie, 15 both of Jacksonville before the annual St. Pete Pride parade in downtown St. Petersburg on Saturday. This year the route was changed from the Grand Central and Kenwood area to Bayshore Drive.
[EVE EDELHEIT   |   Times]
  5. Retired Florida Supreme Court Justice Parker Lee McDonald dies

    TALLAHASSEE — A former Florida Supreme Court justice, who wrote a decision that prevented lawyers from excluding jurors because of their race, has died.

    Former Florida Supreme Court Justice Parker Lee McDonald died Saturday, the court said in a statement. He was 93.