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District Budget Update - July 27, 2016

posted Jul 27, 2016, 7:53 AM by Scott Latimore   [ updated Jul 27, 2016, 7:53 AM ]

At its July 21 meeting, the Board of Education was provided with a budget update and recommended reductions to balance the district budget. While the County Commissioners did provide additional funding this year, the request was not fully funded, and we were forced to make reductions to balance our operational plan, at about $1.5 million dollars.  

The top priority of this budget is securing highly qualified and effective teachers in every classroom. Competition for educators, increasing turnover rates, and lower schools of education enrollment levels were all major factors in our decision to raise our teacher salary supplement. Similarly our other budget priorities were linked to recruiting and retaining staff, including our classified staff.  When the budget request was submitted, other reductions were anticipated in order to fund these priorities, but our leadership team and the Board reached consensus that these priorities were paramount.

This year’s budget also includes a lot of positives. We were able implement the state salary increase, increase our teacher salary supplement, implement the final phase of the classified pay study, and begin a teacher assistant-to-teacher tuition reimbursement program.

Nevertheless, reductions became necessary.  A recommended reductions list was shared and discussed with our principals and cabinet, who supported the recommendations. We tried to focus on protecting the classroom, our programs, and our services as feasible.  We have reduced our budget by millions of dollars over the past several years, which left very few options aside from personnel. In total, 23 local positions will be eliminated.  The proposed reductions do not result in any layoffs, but will require reassignments in some cases.  The recommended local reductions are as follows:

 Item      Number of Positions Savings 
 Elementary Media Assistants  11 $385,000
 Middle School Gifted Specialists 2 $140,000
 MS PE Off Team 4 $280,000
 High School Clerical 3 $135,000
 Central Office Admin Positions 2 $180,000
 Central Office reorg. further reduction 1 $35,000
 Supplies  $96,996
 Utilities  $300,000
 Total  23 $1,551,996

The Board's feedback suggests they concur with our recommendations. We will take the necessary steps to finalize the budget and implement the reductions over the next few weeks. We expect the Board will formally adopt the budget on August 18, 2016.

We would like everyone to know that these were not easy decisions to make, especially those that impact the livelihood of our dedicated employees. Fortunately, we will be able to offer those affected continued employment with the district.  Our Human Resources team has already started contacting affected employees to offer other positions and aide with transition.

DISTRICT BUDGET UPDATE

posted May 11, 2016, 1:38 PM by Scott Latimore   [ updated May 11, 2016, 1:39 PM ]

On April 26, 2016, the Board of Education’s 2016-17 budget request was presented to the Board of Orange County Commissioners.  The Board of Education requested an additional $4.5 million (or $446 per pupil) for the primary purpose of ensuring that we have highly qualified teachers in all of our classrooms by providing sorely needed salary increases to our hard working employees.  The recruitment and retention of staff has been prioritized above everything else.  Our teacher turnover rate has recently exceeded 18% and we are struggling to fill exceptional children, math, science, and even elementary classroom vacancies.  Since it is absolutely critical that we compete with other districts, the Board of Education authorized a teacher supplement increase in advance of knowing our state and local budget funding levels.
 
Last week, the County Manager’s recommended budget was presented.  The County Manager’s budget included a small increase in per pupil funding and increased the county’s financial support for nurses and school resource officers.  In total, the county manager’s budget includes approximately $350,000 in additional funding for our district.  It is still early in the process and the County Commissioners have yet to weigh in, however if adopted as presented, our district would need to reduce our operational plan for 2016-17 by about $4 million.
 
This would result in a major setback for our school system.  Over the past seven years, the district has reduced our local budget by millions of dollars and absorbed nearly $10 million more in state budget cuts.  It would not be possible to reduce our local budget by $4 million without reducing school staffing levels and our educational program offerings.  Staffing levels could be reduced by as many as 100 full time positions.
 
While we can hope that the final county budget provides additional funding, we need to be prepared to make some tough decisions in the coming months.  We expect a state budget proposal in the coming weeks, and will share additional information and considerations for the Board of Education and our community as we reconcile the differences between our request, the local budget, and the state budget.

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