No Cuts Expected for 2012-13 School Year
During school board public hearing, superintendent presents budget and school board attorney announces retirement.
The Manatee school district won’t see any cuts for the 2012-12 school year, unlike many other Florida counties that are cutting as much as $24 million, said Schools Superintendent Tim McGonegal. In fact, the tentative budget he presented Monday night during the school board’s special public hearing on the budget revealed a surplus of $2 million.
“Over the last three years, we’ve cut $58.2 million from our budget,” McGonegal explained. “For the first time, we’ll be actually adding money back to the school budgets instead of cutting.”
He noted that other school districts haven’t been so fortunate, with Lee County cutting $15 million, Pasco County slashing $24.7 and Collier looking at a $16.54 million slice.
Despite the budget seemingly in the black, McGonegal described several of the challenges Manatee County’s school’s budget is up against, including a 2.48 percent decrease in millage, the elimination of lottery funds and the costs association with class size compliance.
“Class size is really the elephant in the room,” he said. “We will spend $51 million of our categorical funding for class size requirement. … Just to give you an idea of the significant of an impact this has on the budget, $1 out of every $6 of our operating budget goes for compliance for the class size amendment.”
McGonegal characterized the budget he presented as “preliminary” and said items with fluctuating prices, like fuel, would be updated for future meetings.
“That’s really why we’ve called this a preliminary budget,” he said. “It’s the best information we have today. As we move forward to the budget you’ll approve on July 30, we’ll have a lot more concrete information in the budget.”
A second special public hearing on the budget will be held July 30, and the final budget meeting for approval will be held Sept. 10. Only one member of the public chose to speak at the meeting, much to the obvious surprise of the school board members.
At the end of Monday’s meeting, school board attorney John Bowen announced his retirement, relieving the school board of having to decide to renew his contract.
“My intention is to not work beyond June 30 of next year, so you don’t need to tell me if you’ll want me or not,” he said.
Bowen faced some adversity this time last year when a group of citizens called for his termination.