Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Lower enrollment in Pasco schools could bring budget cuts

LAND O'LAKES — An unexpected decline in student enrollment means Pasco County stands to lose millions of dollars from the state.

If the numbers from Pasco's 20-day count hold into October, officials said, the upshot could be more budget cuts.

"It's certainly going to be a struggle, there's no doubt about that," School Board member Cynthia Armstrong said. "We will be having to look at really any possible cut that we can get."

The situation is this: As of Wednesday, the Pasco school system counted 67,110 students in its various programs, ranging from traditional schools to juvenile justice. That's 393 students fewer than expected.

The problem is, district planners expected to see a decline of just 46 students this year. So when the board agreed on its 2011-12 budget, it set aside the funding amount for 46 children, leaving a difference of 347.

Pasco's state and local funding per student is set at $6,334.

District officials have not yet calculated exactly how large a funding reduction the system faces because details other than simple attendance must be factored in. But they know that last year, when the district fell about 200 students shy of projections, they had to come up with about $4 million.

"There's going to be some cutting somewhere," board member Steve Luikart said. "It's going to be an Easter egg hunt again. Under what tree do we look for what money?"

District planning director Chris Williams said his staff has begun to review where the enrollment projections were off and why. Initial analysis doesn't turn up any trends, he said.

Some schools, such as Chester Taylor Elementary and Wiregrass Ranch High in eastern Pasco, have higher than expected numbers of students while others, including Denham Oaks Elementary in central Pasco, logged in dozens lower than projected.

Armstrong, who is a real estate broker, noted that foreclosures continue to pile up in the county as people lose their jobs and cannot make their mortgages. Many people leave the area when that happens, she said.

"That might be a part," Armstrong said. "It's a reflection of the economy."

The shrinking school population does not bode well for the district's bottom line, which already saw its general fund budget decrease by $14.8 million this year, Luikart said. Overall, the budget shrank by more than $50 million, prompting the board to impose layoffs and negotiate furloughs to make ends meet.

"We have to wait and find out exactly what the bottom line figure looks like," Luikart said. "I'm sure the board will have some recommendations to at least look at."

Jeffrey S. Solochek can be reached at or (813) 909-4614. For more education news, visit the Gradebook at

by the numbers

393 fewer students enrolled in Pasco schools than expected.

67,110 Total student enrollment on the 20th day of classes.

$6,334 per-student funding, state and local.

Source: Pasco County School District

Lower enrollment in Pasco schools could bring budget cuts 09/22/11 [Last modified: Thursday, September 22, 2011 8:58pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. College World Series title puts Florida Gators in elite company


    The Florida Gators put themselves in rare company with Tuesday night's College World Series national championship victory.

    Florida ace and Tampa native Alex Faedo (21) lets loose with his teammates after they win the Gators’ first baseball national title.
  2. Lightning prospects mantra: You never know when NHL chance will appear

    Lightning Strikes

    BRANDON — Brett Howden said he watched closely last season as former junior teammate Brayden Point made an remarkable rise to a Lightning regular in his first year pro.

    Lightning prospect Mikhail Sergachev skates during the Lightning Development Camp Wednesday at the Ice Sports Forum in Brandon. [DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD   |   Times]
  3. McConnell trying to revise the Senate health care bill by Friday


    WASHINGTON — Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is aiming to send a revised version of his health care bill to the Congressional Budget Office as soon as Friday as he continues to push for a vote before Congress' August recess.

    Protesters rally against the Senate Republican health care bill Wednesday on the east front of the Capitol building.
  4. Police raise likely death toll in London high-rise blaze


    LONDON — The number of people killed or presumed dead in the London high-rise fire has inched up to 80, but the final death toll may not be known for months, British police said at a grim briefing Wednesday.

  5. Rick Baker gives himself a "B" in 1st debate against Rick Kriseman


    Rick Baker gave himself a “B” in his first debate against Mayor Rick Kriseman.

    Rick Baker chats with supporters at a fundraiser at St. Petersburg Yacht Club Wednesday evening