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School District budget shortfall still undetermined

By Staff | Feb 24, 2011

Although the Lee County School District is facing a budget deficit for the next fiscal year, officials will not know how much that shortfall will amount to for the next couple of weeks.
Ami Desamours, budget director said during a Lee County School District briefing meeting Tuesday afternoon that since the state announced the expected $52 million budget shortfall last week they asked each department division to identify where cuts can be made. She explained that they are trying to get a more complete picture of what the district can sustain for the next fiscal year.
“We are trying to get away from doing percentage cuts across the board,” she said.
One hundred and fifty positions were cut last year after two rounds of eliminating positions were made in April and May. Since 2010, one round of cuts has been made with 130 positions cut out of the departments.
“We have reduced staffing by over a quarter within the central office,” Desamours said, adding that they started at the “central office first to stay as far away from the classrooms as possible.”
She explained that although they are cutting from the central office, some of those positions will have an affect in the classroom.
We are “doing more with less continuously,” Desamours said.
The district will have a clear budget picture in the next few weeks, she explained, which will tell officials how much of the reserves they will be running and what cuts need to be made, if necessary.”
Desamours said the district can recoup some of the projected shortfall if they take $15 million from the reduction of retirement rate, along with $15 million for the Education Jobs fund.
It will be a “$32 million shortfall after two items are added back in,” she said.