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District expects additional shortfalls

By Staff | May 4, 2011

The Lee County School District is anticipating another shortfall of $10.5 million for next year’s budget, due to changes in retirement.
Budget Director Dr. Ami Desamours said that the legislature has been working with no information because they did not receive any allocations from the official budget meeting until last week.
Desamours said they wanted to make sure they had a consensus of what the budget might entail before they move forward with a plan that was presented to the board in early April.
Those budget scenarios included a best case scenario, which projects a $26 million shortfall and the use of $6.5 million in reserves; a realistic case scenario, which projects a $37 million shortfall and the use of $16 million in reserves; and a worst case scenario which projects a $52 million reduction and use of $20 million in reserves.
The board opted to use the realistic scenario for its projections.
Desamours said that the budget department began looking into things that had to be negotiated and things that did not. Those that did not need negotiation are already in the process of finalizing.
She said on April 29 the senate provided a state wide draft budget recommendation, but district by district numbers were not available, so they applied logic and percentages to different funding options. She said they made some assumptions of what the detailed run should look like, which should be very close to what actually happens.
As of April 29, the senate draft recommended total funding of $16.6 billion, which was different from the April 6 Senate run of $553 million.
Desamours estimated that the share from the Senates April 29 recommendation is an additional cut of $10.5 million due to changes in retirement that the state is enacting. She said they will save $1.1 billion, which should be sufficient in filling the gap and covering the additional loss of the $10.5 million.
Interim Superintendent Dr. Larry Tihen said there has been more weight placed on the district’s employees in terms of what they contribute to the system because they are making up some of the differences.
The school district may be facing a $48 million loss when the new shortfall is factored in.
Desamours said none of the numbers are final yet, but they do have a good indication that the numbers they came up with will be close to what they will be facing in budget shortfalls for the 2011-2012 school budget.
Although the district did not receive numbers before the briefing meeting Tuesday afternoon, she said they should receive them no later than Wednesday, so the legislature does not have to go into a special session.
A presentation of the preliminary budget will be given in June and the approval of the tentative budget will be held in July.