School Districts Faced With Tough Budgets, Even Tougher Decisions
Published June 4th, 2013
Lake City, Fl. -- Summer vacation kicks off today, but school district officials are just starting to do some complicated mathematics.
Over the weekend, Marion County announced hundreds may lose their jobs as they try to reconcile a nearly 30 million dollar deficit for the coming schoolyear.
As students look ahead to another year of education, many teachers in several counties wait to learn if they'll have another year to teach.
Fort White High School teacher Kevin Doyle says it's toughest on the newest teachers.
"If you've entered into the workforce in the past few years you have no job security thanks to the florida legislature," Doyle says.
As North Central Florida school districts work to balance their budgets, Columbia County public school administrators find their district in a difficult position.
"We've been under a situation where our budget was not good according to state statutes, we did not have the three percent reserve," Columbia County Superintendent Terry Huddleston says.
With only $600,000 in a reserve fund, the county has more than just this year's budget constraints to be concerned about.
"Through attrition we're looking at about 20 individuals. We're trying to use that number, which if we don't rehire 20 people that really helps us," Huddleston says.
Doyle says most teachers are supportive of the choices being made by the school board because retaining staff has been a priority.
"For our district which has one of the lowest reserve funds in the state for them to be able to do that speaks to the challenges, but the choices that they make versus other districts that are making other choices," Doyle says.
But maintaining what they have still isn't ideal.
"We're pretty lean right now as far as staffing goes, and I think that that's a reflection of choices made in the florida legislature," Doyle says.
State choices that now lead to difficult decisions for local schools.
Administrators from Dixie and Levy counties also say that unlike Marion County, they're not anticipating any large scale non-renewal of contracts.
Dixie County is reducing some benefits plans to save money, and Levy County says they're waiting on student enrollment numbers and staff resignations to determine exactly what cuts they may make.
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