Pinellas brainstorms ways to cut education budget

The Pinellas County school district is focused on slicing $60 million from its budget next year. The exact amount to be cut will remain unclear until the Florida legislative session ends in May. District officials are using $60 million as a target, given projections that range from $34 million to $86 million. The former figure is what the district expects to cut if state education funding remains stable. The latter is what it will have to cut if the Legislature follows Gov. Rick Scott's budget proposal to cut funding by $780 per student. The latest projections from the Florida House: a $450.05 per-student cut for Pinellas (6.62 percent). To determine some budget-cutting options, school officials recently held sessions to solicit ideas from the community. They also asked administrators and principals for suggestions. Here's a sampling from a list school officials released to the Times on Friday:

PROGRAMS

• Use classroom teachers to teach PE; reduce PE

• Eliminate countywide recognition and celebrations

• Eliminate programs that aren't at full capacity or are duplicated

• Do away with gifted program — infuse in regular classroom

• Cut International Baccalaureate program supplement pay for teachers

• Do away with libraries, create more classroom libraries

• Clubs and activities should be fee-based

• Do art and music once every two weeks

• Allow students to bring their own technology to class

• Eliminate magnet programs and send students to zoned school

• Teach more online — technology

• Shorten the school year

• Create a "Sylvan"-type learning center in our schools that parents would pay for after school, put one in each cluster

• Stop transportation for fundamental and magnet schools (high school)

• Electronic textbooks

EXTRACURRICULARS

• Pay to play

• Eliminate after-school activities

• Reduce sports or coaching staff

• Eliminate activities with few participants

• Parents responsible for transportation to extracurricular activities

• Facility sharing for events and coordinating schedules (i.e., debate in auditorium, football one field, soccer another)

• Charge fees for extracurricular activities; community can assist those with financial hardship (scholarships, grants, donations)

• Limit or reduce sports games by 20 percent

• Football games only during daylight

• All trips paid by fundraising

• Eliminate busing to sporting events

• Volunteer coaches

• Eliminate driver's education

• Earmark funds from vendor machines for extracurriculars

• Parents operate sports programs and assume all costs

• Partner with municipalities for sports

• Cut middle school sports

• Eliminate out-of-county travel for sports

SALARIES & BENEFITS

• Limit leaves of absence

• Offer retirement incentives

• Institute two-week furloughs; rotating all staff except teachers

• Renegotiate health care benefits — include more for less

• Increase health care employee contribution

• Privatize food services; outsource cafeteria

• Cut all salaries by 3 percent

• Maintain hiring freeze

• Longer furloughs for administrators

FACILITIES & MAINTENANCE

• Sell advertising on buses, marquees, etc.

• Increase leasing fees for facility use

• Hold video conferences instead of meetings

• Sell off vacant properties

• Eliminate night meetings that keep buildings open

• Close smaller schools and operate larger schools

• Pay teachers stipend to clean own classrooms

• Get rid of grass — xeriscape with lower maintenance

• Hire teachers in summer as painters at an hourly rate

• Review maintenance services to schools for cost effect vs. private sector

• Reduce portables

• Re-evaluate need for lawn maintenance over the summer

• Outsource maintenance

• Shut down elementary and middle earlier in the day, saving power

• Work fewer days during summer

• Lease/sell empty buildings/offices

• Recycle materials

• Reconstitute closed buildings into fundamental school to bring money from private schools

• Cut costs at administration building

OTHER

• Bag lunches every day

• Eliminate charter schools

• Eliminate school police.

• Eliminate teachers on special assignment; move them back to the classroom

• Advertise on PCSB website

For more updates on budget issues, visit pcsb.org and go to "focus on the budget."

Pinellas brainstorms ways to cut education budget 03/26/11 [Last modified: Saturday, March 26, 2011 2:35pm]

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