Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Pasco School Board considers adding period to teachers' day

LAND O'LAKES — The biggest single item Pasco County school officials have under consideration to save money next year is potentially the most divisive on the list.

To save $12 million, the administration has proposed having all middle and high school teachers instruct six periods a day instead of five. To give the teachers adequate planning time, the district would incorporate some half days into the school year.

It's a move that would upset teachers and parents alike, board members acknowledged during a budget workshop Thursday.

Vice chairwoman Joanne Hurley advocated against the idea.

"I feel strongly that is not one of the things I want to do," Hurley said. "We should be doing everything we can to make our teachers successful."

Others on the board agreed in theory, but the threat of needing to cut as much as $54 million from the budget loomed large over their discussion.

"Where are you going to get $12 million?" board member Kathryn Starkey asked. "That's the biggest one on there."

The board has worked hard the past two years to keep the cuts out of the classroom, board member Frank Parker added. But with millions in spending already reduced during that time, he said, the district has few other places to look.

"I'm afraid our hand is being forced here," Parker said.

"Protecting classroom teachers is still the highest (priority) on my list," Hurley responded.

"Well, your homework from today is to go find $12 million," chairman Allen Altman told Hurley.

Board members spent about 90 minutes reviewing different ideas to cut spending in what's expected to be the third straight year of reduced revenue from the state.

They talked about furloughs, reductions in paid benefits, elimination of courtesy bus rides and a host of other possibilities.

When adding up all the potential savings, the numbers still fell a bit short of the goal.

And that was without taking into account some of the costs associated with new mandates moving through the Florida Legislature.

"It's just the perfect storm we're riding into," Starkey said, noting that class size requirements, performance pay rules, declining taxes and increasing costs are coming together to hurt districts' ability to cover the base.

"It's not pretty," Hurley said.

"You couldn't even put lipstick on this pig," superintendent Heather Fiorentino replied.

Starkey and Hurley pressed for a variety of answers. They asked about charging a fee for courtesy bus rides, for example, and cutting back noninstructional support services such as counselors and nurses.

Assistant superintendent Ruth Reilly noted that many of the support services are required by law, but added that it might be possible to eliminate some of the positions.

As the budgeting moves ahead, Fiorentino said, no ideas are set in stone. They're on paper in a pocket display, she said, and the cards can go in and come out as needed.

Altman called for public forums around the county so the public can give its views on its spending priorities. The goal would be getting suggestions on what to cut, and not what to save, he said.

Starkey agreed it's important to have that input.

"We should just throw everything on the wall and see what our community values the most," she said.

The board's next budget workshop is scheduled for April 16.

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

What to cut?

The Pasco County School Board is looking for ideas for cutting the district's 2010-11 spending by as much as $54 million. Some of the main ideas put forth by the staff include:

• Having secondary teachers instruct 6 of 6

periods ($12 million savings).

• One-day furlough for employees, two days for administration ($2 million).

• Instructional materials flexibility ($1.5 million).

• Eliminate dental as a paid benefit ($900,000).

• Employees contribute $25 a month for health insurance ($2.5 million).

• Eliminate one employee per school ($1.7 million).

• Eliminate driver's education and add the program as a virtual course ($430,000).

• Eliminate courtesy bus rides ($400,000).

• Reduce two administration positions ($100,000).

• Add an early retirement incentive ($4 million).

Pasco School Board considers adding period to teachers' day 04/01/10 [Last modified: Thursday, April 1, 2010 8:46pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. During the most expensive mayoral election ever, St. Petersburg City Council wants to limit PAC money


    ST. PETERSBURG — In front of a large group of red-shirted campaign finance reform supporters, the St. Petersburg City Council on Thursday started the ball rolling on an ordinance that would limit individual campaign contributions to $5,000 from political action committees.

    A large crowd gathered Thursday to support passage of a controversial measure to limit campaign spending in city elections
  2. Minority business accelerator launch by Tampa chamber to aid black, Hispanic businesses


    A "minority business accelerator" program was launched Thursday by the Greater Tampa Chamber of Commerce geared toward helping black and Hispanic business owners identify and overcome barriers to grow their companies. The accelerator, known as MBA, will provide participants with business tools to cultivate opportunities …

    Bemetra Simmons is a senior private banker at Wells Fargo, The Private Bank. She is also chair of the new minority business accelerator program for the Greater Tampa Chamber of Commerce. [Photo, LinkedIn]
  3. A test the Rays haven't passed

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — I have no idea what to think about the Rays. Not a clue.

    Tampa Bay Rays players celebrate their 8-3 win over the Cincinnati Reds Wednesday, June 21, 2017 in St. Petersburg.
  4. Tampa Bay Lightning 2017-18 schedule: Stanley Cup champion Penguins, expansion Golden Knights among the coming attractions

    Lightning Strikes

    The Lightning's season schedule was released Thursday afternoon, and there are plenty of must-see matchups coming to Amalie Arena. Here are the home games with the most intriguing storylines:

    The champs

    (Oct. 12, Oct. 21)

    The two-time defending champion Penguins make two early trips to Tampa. [AP photo]
  5. Tampa Bay Lightning 2017-18 schedule

    Lightning Strikes

    The Lightning's season schedule was released Thursday afternoon, and there are plenty of must-see matchups coming to Amalie Arena. Here is the full 2017-18 schedule.

    The Lightning's Brayden Point celebrates a goal during a game against the Ottawa Senators in February in Tampa. [AP photo]