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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.