Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Fast facts | Pasco schools and budget

Schools losing ground in next year's budget

LAND O'LAKES — The Pasco County School District stands to receive about $2.7-million more in its general operating budget for next year, thanks largely to Pasco County taxpayers.

But district officials say that amount won't be enough to offset rising costs and increasing enrollment.

In setting its education spending plan for 2008-09, Florida lawmakers have proposed decreasing the state's base funding for Pasco schools by more than $5-million. The district would lose $107.22, or 1.51 percent, per student. The cut would be worse if not for the county's projected enrollment increase of 1,368 students.

Pasco is one of a handful of districts expected to grow next year.

When you throw in funding for other items, such as transportation and instructional materials, the state's support for Pasco schools dips even further — despite a $5.2-million hike in money for class-size reduction. The state's total contribution to the district this year was $318.8-million. Its budgeted amount for next year is $306.6-million.

Meanwhile, the Legislature says Pasco property taxpayers would have to pony up $141.5-million, up from $135.02-million. That translates into a tax rate of $4.872 per $1,000 of taxable value, up from $4.781.

The total depends upon a tax roll of $30.6-billion, up from $29.7-billion. Superintendent Heather Fiorentino has questioned whether that new figure reflects reality.

Property Appraiser Mike Wells said he isn't ready to talk about the county's taxable value yet, as his staff is still reviewing property values.

Whatever the bottom line, Fiorentino said, the district is going to have to do "a lot more with less."

The district is opening two new schools next year, and the initial overhead cost to do that alone is about $3-million per school. That doesn't account for the recurring cost of hiring new teachers.

Fiorentino has her finance team reviewing the potential for savings in a variety of budget moves, ranging from reduced employee benefits to elimination of some sports and other extracurricular activities. Every expense is under scrutiny.

Surrounding districts, where the losses are worse because they do not have increasing enrollment, already have announced some of their planned cuts. Hillsborough leaders have discussed cutting district-level jobs, turning up thermostats by 2 degrees and privatizing some services.

Pinellas superintendent Clayton Wilcox said Tuesday he expected to cut employee salaries by 2 percent, eliminate 147 jobs and freeze travel.

Fiorentino has not made specific recommendations yet. She has asked teachers to delay their annual raises based on years of service, but they have refused.

"We're not going to lose focus of our mission," Fiorentino said, stressing the importance of spending in the classroom. She would not elaborate.

School Board members have said they prefer not to eliminate jobs if possible.

The board is scheduled to meet May 20 to set budget priorities.

Jeffrey S. Solochek can be reached at solochek@sptimes.com or (813) 909-4614. For more education news, visit the Gradebook at blogs.tampabay.com/schools.

One of just a few districts expected to grow next year. >> $107.22
Funding loss per student.
>> 1,368 students Projected enrollment increase.
>> $5-million
Proposed decrease in state's base funding.
>> $306.6-million
The state's budgeted amount for next year, compared to $318.8-million this year.
>> $141.5-million
What property taxpayers would have to pay, up from $135.02-million this year.

Schools losing ground in next year's budget 04/29/08 [Last modified: Wednesday, April 30, 2008 2:28pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Police: Uber driver's gun discharges during fight at Adventure Island in Tampa

    Public Safety

    TAMPA — An Uber driver's gun went off Sunday at Adventure Island during a fight between the driver and two passengers.

  2. Baker cautious on Pride politics

    Elections

    Rick and Joyce Baker strode down Central Avenue Sunday amid rainbow flags, corporate booths, and blaring music of the St. Pete Pride Festival.

    St. Petersburg mayoral candidate Rick Baker chats Sunday with people at the St. Pete Pride Festival. As mayor, Baker did not sign a Pride parade proclamation, but now he says he would.
  3. Rays' bullpen stars lit up in loss to Orioles

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — Saturday it was the soft underbelly of the bullpen that let one get away from the Rays, incurring the wrath of the team's faithful followers, who wondered why the high-leverage guys weren't pitching.

    Rays closer Alex Colome, coming in with the score tied in the ninth, allows three runs in his second straight poor outing.
  4. Lightning among early suitors for defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk

    Lightning Strikes

    TAMPA — Lightning general manager Steve Yzerman said he planned to explore free agency for potential needs, which include bolstering his blue line and adding a wing or two.

    Defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk, who can be a free agent Saturday, counts the Lightning among his early suitors.
  5. Senate leaders try to appease members as support for health bill slips

    National

    WASHINGTON — Senate Republican leaders scrambled Sunday to rally support for their health care bill, even as opposition continued to build outside Congress and two Republican senators questioned whether the bill would be approved this week.

    Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky, speaking to reporters on Capitol Hill on Thursday, is one of the five Republican senators who announced they cannot support the health care bill as drafted.