Thursday, February 22, 2018
Editorials

School board should help find budget cuts

The Pasco School Board doubled Kurt Browning's workload this week, telling the superintendent to balance the upcoming budget without tapping reserves, other one-time revenue accounts or eliminating the 90 jobs held by media specialists and literacy coaches.

In essence, the board turned a projected $4.5 million shortfall into a $9.3 million deficit by refusing to act on Browning's controversial staffing recommendation to send 33 reading coaches back to the classroom and morph media specialist positions into a new job combined with information technology.

By doing so, board members failed to demonstrate any semblance of leadership beyond the politically popular choice of protecting a highly vocal vested interest. Nobody publicly offered the superintendent any suggestions on alternative cuts.

Cutting $9.3 million, incidentally, is the equivalent of laying off more than 170 teachers. That idea isn't on the table, but, without an influx of state dollars, the board will be asked to consider a variation of the plan to combine media/information technology job descriptions. The board also may choose to revisit previously discarded alternatives of moving assistant principals from schools and other austerity measures. Over the past three years, the school board has examined but declined to act on cutting sports, music and art; requiring middle and high school educators to teach an extra class each day and moving to a four-day school week.

The school board is facing a $19.5 million gap in 2013-14 because it used one-time funds this year in a stop-gap measure to balance the budget, including money from reserves, capital construction and other accounts outside the general fund. Over the past six years, the district has confronted collective budget deficits of $161 million because of fluctuating state aid, falling property tax rolls and the expense of meeting class-size mandates in the Florida Constitution.

This year, the district plans to lose 171 jobs by consolidating staffs while two elementary schools are closed for remodeling; cutting personnel assigned to English as a Second Language (ESOL), adult and special education; and ignoring the class size amendment. That will bring a $213,000 state fine, but allow schools to reassign 74 teachers and forgo the $4 million cost of meeting the requirement this school year.

Combined, those and other measures total $10.2 million in reductions, leaving another $9.3 million for Browning to cut, apparently without any help from School Board members.

It's a glaring omission. The Pasco School Board frequently griped about its poor communication with Browning's predecessor. Now, board members must accept responsibility that communication works both ways and they must be willing to say more than "No.''

Comments
Editorial: They value guns, not kids

Editorial: They value guns, not kids

They value guns over kidsSix days after 17 were killed at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High by a teen-ager firing an AR-15 semi-automatic rifle, the Florida House refused to even debate a bill banning the sale of assault weapons. The vote, 71 to 36, wasn...
Published: 02/21/18
Editorial: Listen to Marjory Stoneman Douglas students demanding change

Editorial: Listen to Marjory Stoneman Douglas students demanding change

Students from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School are traveling to the state capital today and declaring "never again.íí A prominent Florida Republican fundraiser vows he wonít raise another nickel until his party approves new gun controls. Across F...
Published: 02/19/18

Editorial: No more doubt about Russian meddling in election

The latest indictment by the Justice Department special counsel, Robert Mueller, refutes President Donald Trumpís claims that Russian interference in the 2016 election was a Democratic hoax. The indictment details the lengths Russian conspirators too...
Published: 02/19/18

Another voice: Tips should belong to workers, not their bosses

The Trump administration is under fire for proposing a Labor Department regulation that could result in hotel and restaurant employers dipping into the tips customers leave for their employees, depriving the nationís 14 million hard-working restauran...
Published: 02/18/18
Updated: 02/20/18
Editorial: Trumpís rising deficits and misplaced priorities

Editorial: Trumpís rising deficits and misplaced priorities

Itís not popular in Washington or virtually anywhere else these days to express concern about the rising federal deficit. Congressional Republicans who used to be deficit hawks first voted to cut taxes by $1.5 trillion over the next decade, then rais...
Published: 02/17/18
Editorial: Buckhorn should not appeal verdict in firefighterís case

Editorial: Buckhorn should not appeal verdict in firefighterís case

The city of Tampa should have taken Tanja Vidovic seriously from the start when the Tampa firefighter complained about her treatment in the workplace. Now that a jury and judge have spoken, itís time for City Hall to cut its losses, learn from its mi...
Published: 02/15/18
Updated: 02/16/18
Editorial: CareerSource troubles mount as public trust drops

Editorial: CareerSource troubles mount as public trust drops

The dark cloud enveloping Tampa Bayís job placement centers keeps growing. There are accusations of forged documents, evidence of nepotism and concerns about grossly inflated performance numbers that could be tied to receiving more public money and b...
Published: 02/15/18
Updated: 02/16/18
Editorials: Prayers and platitudes after shootings arenít enough

Editorials: Prayers and platitudes after shootings arenít enough

Even before the victims of another mass shooting at another public school were identified, Gov. Rick Scott, Attorney General Pam Bondi, state legislators and members of Congress rushed to South Florida or to social media to offer their thoughts and p...
Published: 02/15/18
Editorial: DCF review should get to the bottom of Hillsborough foster care issues

Editorial: DCF review should get to the bottom of Hillsborough foster care issues

The Florida Department of Children and Families is right to call for a timely and "comprehensive" review of Hillsborough Countyís foster care system. Though the probe is a reaction to a recent case involving a child who was left unattended, the revie...
Published: 02/14/18

A Washington Post editorial: Modernize 911 calling before it becomes an emergency

This Friday marks the 50th anniversary of the first 911 emergency call placed in the United States. Since then, uncounted lives have been saved and people helped. It has been a great accomplishment of government.But even as an estimated 240 million 9...
Published: 02/13/18
Updated: 02/14/18