Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Snip, snip: Ideas pour in to trim Pinellas school budget

Superintendent Clayton Wilcox, left, and Julie Janssen, the proposed interim superintendent, participate in a budget workshop Thursday.


Superintendent Clayton Wilcox, left, and Julie Janssen, the proposed interim superintendent, participate in a budget workshop Thursday.

How would you cut the Pinellas school system budget to address a $43-million shortfall?

By the end of the week, suggestions were pouring into the School Board office from district employees and members of the public:

• Instead of cutting pay by 2 percent and more, as proposed last week by superintendent Clayton Wilcox, make employees pay higher health insurance premiums.

• Go to a four-day school week to save on fuel and energy costs.

• Hold off on buying textbooks and computers.

• Reduce the district's busing obligations to families not in a "close to home" school.

• Offer any employee a year off for any reason.

School Board members are listening and trying to come up with their own ideas as they brace for a budget debate that could last weeks.

The problem is that 85 percent of the budget goes to salaries and benefits. If the district cut the power at every school and bought no new supplies for a year, it still wouldn't fill the hole in the 2008-09 budget.

"Everything we do has to touch people," Wilcox said, referring to the cutting process. "There's no way around that."

Because of turnover, the district thinks it can find jobs for many employees whose positions are being eliminated.

Officials also are thinking about the next two to four years, which look to be just as grim.

A worsening economy and the property tax reforms approved by voters in January have reduced tax collections and created a crisis in many Florida districts. But Pinellas is hurting more because it is also losing students.

In the past five years, declining enrollment has reduced Pinellas' annual state revenue by $40-million. Officials say the system must shrink itself to match conditions.

Proposed strategies

Below is a detailed look at how, as of Friday, school officials proposed to cut the budget.
Reduce pay for about 14,000 employees by 2 percent $11-million
Return 104 "resource" and "special assignment" teachers to classrooms, reducing the need to fill teacher vacancies $5,405,920
Assorted reassignments and job cuts in more than 40 departments affecting about 90 employees, including clerks, secretaries, supervisors $4,361,747
Cancel contract with private company that operates Oak Park School in Pinellas Park $4,263,257
Reduce work day from 8 hours to 7.5 hours for 1,982 employees, mostly maintenance workers, bus drivers and school police officers. Translates to a wage cut of between 3.1 and 6.25 percent $4,111,833
Close three schools: Largo Central and South Ward elementaries and Riviera Middle $2,968,536
Cancel planned expansion of school nurse program $2,500,000
Reduce number of middle and high school assistant principals. Many will return to teaching. (Eliminates 27 jobs) $1,892,920
Close Norwood and North Pinellas secondary schools. Move them to Oak Park School, consolidating "alternative" programs for kids with behavior and academic problems. (Eliminates 29 jobs) $1,386,893
Middle and high schools no longer have assigned maintenance workers. District creates two "maintenance tech response teams" to respond regionally to problems. (Eliminates 30 jobs) $1,369,381
Realign staff that handles disabled or "exceptional" students. (Assigns 28 staffers to other jobs; eliminates 18 jobs) $931,000
Cancel contracts with social welfare agencies for "intervention" programs that provide counseling and academic support to reduce suspensions $806,114
Eliminate "Kaplan Planner," an online aid to help teachers plan lessons $800,000
District declines to rehire employees who in past years were allowed to keep working after retiring under a special state program $620,676
Eliminate two Family Education and Information Centers, where families signed up for schools under the old choice plan. (Eliminates 10 jobs) $430,932
Reduce staff in Research and Accountability office, responsible for tracking academic data and evaluating programs. (Eliminates five jobs) $363,551
Reduce clerical staff in curriculum department. (Eliminates 10 jobs) $330,000
Reduce staff in Office of Professional Standards, which investigates complaints against teachers and other employees. (Eliminates three jobs) $275,573
Reduce staff at district television station. (Eliminates three jobs) $114,687
Total $43.9-million

>>fast facts

For input

Have a budget-cutting idea?

Contact the Pinellas County School Board.


Phone: (727) 588-6300

Address: P.O. Box 2942, Largo, FL 33779

Snip, snip: Ideas pour in to trim Pinellas school budget 05/03/08 [Last modified: Friday, May 9, 2008 5:31pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Shooting sends man to hospital in St. Pete


    ST. PETERSBURG — Police were investigating a shooting that occurred around 4:40 p.m. on Tuesday and sent a man to the hospital.

  2. Police: Man tries to lure child with puppy in Polk County


    Times staff

    HAINES CITY — A man was arrested Sunday after he tried to entice a young girl into his camper to view a puppy, according to police.

    Dale Collins, 63, faces a charge of luring or enticing a child under the age of 12. [Photo courtesy of the Polk County Sheriff's Office]
  3. Editorial: Coming together to reduce car thefts


    The simple, knee-jerk response to the juvenile car theft epidemic in Pinellas County would be to crack down on offenders with an increased police presence and stiffer sentences. Thankfully, local community leaders did not stop there. As detailed in a recent Tampa Bay Times follow-up to its 
As detailed in a recent Tampa Bay Times follow-up to its "Hot Wheels" investigation into youth car thefts, a variety of ideas from multiple directions increases the odds of actually solving the cause and not just treating the symptoms.

  4. Editorial: Floridians' health care now at risk in Washington


    The health care for millions of Floridians is now at risk. The U.S. Senate's dramatic vote Tuesday to begin debate on repealing and replacing the Affordable Care Act with no idea what will happen is a dangerous gamble with American lives and the national economy. Barring an unexpected bipartisan compromise, a handful of …

    Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., dramatically returned to the Senate for the first time since his brain cancer was diagnosed and cast the key vote that enabled Vice President Mike Pence to break the 50-50 tie and allow the health care debate to proceed.
  5. Former Marine from Florida dies fighting for Kurdish militia

    ORLANDO — A former Marine who secretly traveled to Syria earlier this year to battle the Islamic State was killed while fighting for a Kurdish militia, his father said Tuesday.

    David Taylor, with his father David Taylor Sr., was killed earlier this month in Syria while fighting for a Kurdish militia.