Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

More school budget trouble looms

BROOKSVILLE — Labor says the glass is half empty, and management says it's half full.

Over most of the summer, that was a pretty good description of the contract talks between the Hernando County School Board and the teachers union.

For weeks, superintendent Wayne Alexander described the district's proposed 3.5 percent raise and 1.5 percent health care boost as the state's most generous offer, while union officials pushed for a bit more.

But that half-full glass may have sprung a leak this week, with the news that state funding cuts could be twice as severe as predicted.

District enrollment is expected to be down from projections by 428 state-funded students, said finance director Deborah Bruggink. And state officials have said plunging tax revenues may increase an anticipated "holdback" of funds from 2 percent to 4 percent.

All told, she said, the district could be looking at a $3.5-million shortfall at the same time it tries to boost teacher salaries.

On Thursday, union negotiators proposed a 4 percent raise plus a 1.5 percent increase for health care premiums.

"Both sides are very close," said Joe Vitalo, president of the Hernando Classroom Teachers Association. "But the state is now saying they want more money back."

Such changes call into question Gov. Charlie Crist's commitment to protect teachers and schools from further cuts, Vitalo said. Nevertheless, he urged the School Board to set its priorities correctly and find the money to boost teacher salaries.

On another contract issue, differences over a teacher dress code proposal appear to have been largely resolved, he said. The union has proposed contract language that would require teachers simply to dress "appropriately and professionally."

But more than 90 percent of teachers oppose a district proposal to attend two additional staff meetings per month without pay, according to a union survey.

Alexander said Friday that the district's previous offer of a 3.5 percent raise is still on the table — for now.

"But I am really concerned about what happens down the road, as early as next week," he added.

Raising teacher salaries and recruiting top talent is a priority for the School Board, Alexander said. But declining revenues may be pushing the county and state in opposite directions.

"My biggest fear is that at some point in this academic year, statewide, we'll have to look at reducing people," he said.

Tom Marshall can be reached at tmarshall@sptimes.com or (352) 848-1431.

More school budget trouble looms 09/19/08 [Last modified: Thursday, September 25, 2008 12:06pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Rubio helps GOP secure votes to proceed on health care debate

    Blogs

    WASHINGTON - Senate Republicans secured enough votes to proceed to debate on health care proposals, with Marco Rubio of Floirda joining in.

  2. Ex-Buc Booger McFarland becomes ABC college football analyst

    Blogs

    Former Bucs defensive lineman Booger McFarland is continuing his broadcasting rise by joining ABC's studio coverage for the upcoming college football season, ESPN announced Tuesday.

    Former Bucs lineman Booger McFarland (No. 92) will become an ABC studio analyst this college football season.
  3. Trump's political speech to Scouts inspires parental outrage

    News

    WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump's fiery speech at the National Scout Jamboree in West Virginia has infuriated parents and former scouts.

    President Donald Trump waves to the crowd of scouts at the 2017 National Boy Scout Jamboree at the Summit in Glen Jean,W. Va., Monday. [AP Photo/Steve Helber]
  4. Florida woman says she buried puppy in park because she couldn't afford cremation

    Public Safety

    When Ashley Duey's 6-month-old puppy was hit by a car, she was devastated.

    It took her four hours to say goodbye.

    Ashley Duey, of Polk County, is trying to raise money to have her pet cremated. She tried burying her puppy in a park, but city officials said it was against the law. (Facebook)
  5. Recycling likely to be issue between the Two Ricks

    Blogs

    When Mayor Rick Kriseman and former mayor Rick Baker go head-to-head in tonight’s televised debate, they’ll likely tangle over the city’s sewage crisis.

    Recycling, especially Rick Baker's record on opposing it while mayor, may surface in tonight's televised debate