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Pasco School Board sets time to begin budget cutting

Pasco County school officials have been loath for months to commit to any specifics when it comes to slashing spending.

They wanted to hear the public's priorities. They needed to know how much the Legislature would give them. They preferred to have a settled teacher contract.

Now all of those pieces have fallen into place. And the School Board has scheduled its first open discussion on how it plans to eliminate an expected shortfall of close to $64 million, preferably with limited pain for students and instruction. It will be at 9:30 a.m. May 11 at the district office.

Already, superintendent Heather Fiorentino has asserted that the district will need layoffs and furloughs to make ends meet. She and several board members have indicated a willingness to spare arts education as much as possible, hearing loud demand at town hall meetings. The idea of forcing secondary teachers to instruct an extra period daily disappeared with a negotiated deal to seek volunteers.

But where the board ultimately cuts remains undetermined. Stay tuned for more.