School district adjusts start times
The Lee County School Board approved an adjusted bell time for the 2011-2012 school year during its Tuesday meeting.
The recommendation for bell time adjustments was brought forth during a briefing meeting held in December for 19 elementary schools and all high schools.
All of the high school morning bell times will be moved from 7:15 a.m. to 7:10 a.m. and the afternoon bell times will be adjusted from 1:45 p.m. to 2:15 p.m. to allow 25 minutes of additional instructional time.
The elementary schools that begin their day at 9:15 also will see adjustments to their bell time next year. The morning bell will be moved from 9:15 a.m. to 9:25 a.m. and the dismissal bell will be moved from 3:30 p.m. to 3:40 p.m.
The Cape Coral elementary schools that will be affected include Diplomat Elementary and Patriot Elementary.
Other business that the board touched upon Tuesday involved a budget overview that would put the board on the right path of having a tentative budget hearing in July for the 2012 budget.
Budget Director Ami Desamours started her presentation by providing a brief budget history over the last few years, which included $18 million in cuts for the 2008 fiscal year, $40 million for the 2009 fiscal year and $28 million for the 2010 fiscal year.
Over a three-year period the district has had $86 million in cuts, which resulted in 700 positions reduced in the schools and district office, changes to the secondary scheduling, art and music modifications at the elementary level, high school athletic subsidies and intramural activities and the reduction of supply dollars to the schools and departments.
Desamours said due to the five year budget plan they were able to put a sufficient amount of reserves aside to offset the budget reduction for fiscal year 2010.
She explained that going into the next budget process the board needs to keep in mind that there are no stimulus dollars available, the continuation of the class size mandate needs to be implemented, along with a budget shortfall at the state level of between $2 billion to $3.5 billion and an economic uncertainty.
The 2012 budget must include the addition of art and music at the elementary level, planning times at the secondary level, along with maintaining the ongoing salary increase of $5 million.
Desamours said the reserves that they set aside will help them through the budget process for 2012. She added that they are hoping the economic circumstances will get better so they can have two additional years with no major cuts.
William Moore with support services also provided a presentation during the briefing meeting Tuesday for an agenda item the board will have to vote on at the next board meeting on Jan. 25. The agenda item is to approve the final phase performance contract of $58,174 for eight high schools, six middle schools, 19 elementary schools and seven other district facilities with Florida Power and Light.
Moore provided an overview of the districts conservation partnership with FPL since 2006. He shared that FPL has provided conservation incentives of $3.5 million, which includes $2.6 million in thermal energy storage incentives for the first two phases completed.
He explained that they use ice tanks to cool building during the middle of the day, to help bring costs down, which is a part of the thermal energy storage.
The first phase targeted schools with the most electricity running in their buildings in 2006. It targeted three high schools, six middle schools and six elementary schools for a guaranteed savings of $491,000 per year for 10 years.
Moore said the next level of opportunity took place in 2008 for four high schools and middle schools and 17 elementary schools for a guaranteed cost savings of $824,000 per year for 10 years.
Board Member Thomas Scott also addressed new procedures that will take place for the press during board meetings due to the Panama City shooting at a board meeting and the Tuscon, Ariz. shooting that took place over the weekend that left Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords fighting for her life Tuesday during the briefing and action meeting.
He explained that the board wants to be available for the press in a more orderly way, instead of the press coming to the dais to talk to the board members following a board meeting. If the press wants to talk to the board members they need to communicate that desire with District Spokesperson Joe Donzelli, who will then “arrange a secondary location for such communication to take place.”
“It’s not to make us unavailable…more available in a more appropriate place for conversations to take place,” Scott said.