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Schools being as proactive as possible in reducing budget

By Staff | Feb 5, 2009

Dear supporters of Lee County Public Schools,

I wanted to provide an update on the budget crisis facing our District. The situation is very fluid, and what is fact today may not be fact tomorrow – it all depends on what happens in Tallahassee.

As it stands now, it looks like the state will have around $3 billion less in its bank accounts than it did last year. For us, that translates into around a $40 million reduction from the 2008-09 budget to the 2009-10 budget.

Yes, that number is correct – we’re looking at taking a $40 million hit. You add that to the nearly $30 million we had to reduce during the 2007-08 school year and you see that the state is hurting – and that pain trickles down.

Last year, we addressed the vast majority of the budgetary reductions at the District level keeping the effects as far away from the classrooms as we could. This year, it’s going to be different – the reductions will felt in every corner of the District. Our goal will always be to keep the impact on the educational environment for children to a minimum, but when you’re cutting $40 million, schools will be affected.

For the past few months, staff has been looking at every aspect of our operations – we knew we’d have to reduce our budget, so we’ve been as proactive as possible. Now that we have a little clearer picture, some of the steps include, but are not limited to:

Reorganization of the District office

Reduction of positions at all levels (instructional, administrative, support)

Review the number of work days for employees

Reduce supply budgets

Elimination of travel

Elimination of District-issued cell phones;

Adjustment of school schedules (elementary and secondary)

Elimination of “above formula” funding (i.e. art, music, etc.)

Reorganization of Transportation and Student Assignment

Reduce Custodial Allocations

Much of what is listed above will have to be bargained with our employee unions. As I said, everything is on the table.

It is important to know that this is not something we as a District can control – if the state has less money, then there’s less to go around. There is something; however, that we can all do: we can stress to our legislators that if they are looking at trimming the state’s budget, that they continue to place a priority on public education and do as they promised and “hold education harmless.”

I urge you to visit our Web site (www.lee.k12.fl.us) and click on the Budget Update link – there you will find information about the situation and contact information for all of our legislators in Tallahassee. Make your voices heard. Let our lawmakers know that you value public education and that you value the teachers who are in our classrooms with your children every day.

James Browder, Ed.D.

Superintendent of Schools