Walton County School Board budget discussion

Discussion in 'Local Government and Groups' started by Rollin' Tide, Feb 24, 2009.

  1. Rollin' Tide

    Rollin' Tide Beach Comber

    Joined:
    Oct 6, 2008
    Messages:
    18
    Likes Received:
    4
    Did anyone attend the "workshop" the board had about budgeting issues for the new academic year (2009-10)? If so, would you comment about what you may have heard while there? I couldn't make it but am interested if our county might be going in the same direction as Bay.
     
  2. Jdarg

    Jdarg SoWal Expert

    Joined:
    Feb 15, 2005
    Messages:
    18,069
    Likes Received:
    1,960
    I attended but my head hurts from 2 hours of numbers and talking about the potential cuts. I have 5 pages of notes. I will try and post more details later, and I sure it will be in the paper.

    In a nutshell- we need to find $8 million. It is ugly. And before people start screaming about where the money is going or that it is not being spent wisely, they need to remember that revenues are waaaay down, and probably aren't going to come up anytime soon, and we are working with a lot less money than in the past. Our system already seems pretty bare bones to me- we don't have a lot of the bells and whistles we were accustomed to in a larger metro school system, so I am going nuts at the thought of cutting back even more.:bang:

    The budget workshop will continue on Mar. 10th, at Walton High School (we were packed into the Board of Ed room tonight), and Mar. 24th will be the "decision day" for the budget since there is a deadline of March 31st (for a reason that I can't recall).

    I attended this workshop because I am interested in the "education delivery model" switch for high school- going back to a traditional 7 period schedule from the 4 by 4 block schedule that currently is not working well. Other schools have been switching back in droves, and we need to as well. All principals but one seem to be in favor of going back to the traditional schedule and are very anxious to start working on the next year's schedules, since it will take some real work to rearrange. There was no huge opposition to switching back, so principals were instructed to go ahead and work on schedules, and the official vote will be Mar. 24th.


    Ready for some revolting figures for our state? (from Carlene Anderson's presentation)~

    Florida is

    47th in expenditures per person in K-12 education
    47th in expenditures per student in k-12 education
    50th in personal income spent on public schools

    Shameful.:sosad:

    She asked that we let our legislators know :
    that we support public school funding,

    that we are appalled at Florida's funding of public education,

    and we don't want to be 50th anymore, and let others know what the education funding picture looks like in Florida and Walton County.

    I am cooked now- goodnight!
     
    Last edited: Feb 24, 2009
  3. Bob Wells

    Bob Wells Beach Fanatic

    Joined:
    Jul 25, 2008
    Messages:
    3,043
    Likes Received:
    771
    Yes, and according to recent news, Florida has reduced spending on schools below 2006 levels which our wildly popular Governor is asking for a waiver from the Feds so Florida can recieve some of the Stimulus money for education and almost in the same breath wants to reduce property taxes by 3%. Go figure.
     
  4. Jdarg

    Jdarg SoWal Expert

    Joined:
    Feb 15, 2005
    Messages:
    18,069
    Likes Received:
    1,960
    And we won't get any stimulus money in the first place because of how low we rank in the money spent on students (see my post above).

    I heard something interesting the other day- this year the state is uber-funding state colleges and universities, even while the public K-12 is drowning. Don't kids have to go to K-12 before they go to college?:dunno: I would love to see the funding figures on this if anyone has them handy.
     
  5. Bob Wells

    Bob Wells Beach Fanatic

    Joined:
    Jul 25, 2008
    Messages:
    3,043
    Likes Received:
    771
    I had seen where Crist was asking for a waiver, was that just Public relations bluster? I had heard we would not qualify either.
     
  6. Jdarg

    Jdarg SoWal Expert

    Joined:
    Feb 15, 2005
    Messages:
    18,069
    Likes Received:
    1,960
    Yes, we heard this too.

    Whether it is a public relations bluster or not, I am sure it is embarrassing to have to ask for this waiver because your state is such a loser educationally!:sosad:

    The superintendent mentioned that even if we were to get stimulus money, it is tied to IDEA (Individuals w/ Disabilities Education Act) and Title I - it is not money that can be used for just anything that is needed. Lots of strings.
     
    Last edited: Feb 25, 2009
  7. beachmouse

    beachmouse Beach Fanatic

    Joined:
    Dec 5, 2004
    Messages:
    3,501
    Likes Received:
    728
    Location:
    Bluewater Bay, FL
    The state got into a pretty big game of chicken with a couple of flagship universities, who had been chronically underfunded as badly as K-12 has in recent years. U of Florida had cut the target size for its freshman class by about 15% and was threatening another admissions cut. FSU was screaming about how it was losing top professors to places like South Carolina and Tennessee because of the lack of funding, and there have been faculty layoffs and program cuts at most universities.

    Add in how higher ed enrollment typically goes up during bad economic times, even when K-12 enrollment goes flat as Florida's population growth stalls, and it's a mess.

    The big concession the state made was that the current per head student levels are not sustainable, so schools are now allowed to raise tuition to something close to the national average. The problem with that is that the state then has to fund Bright Futures scholarships at a higher level, so it's not as much of an external funding increase as it should be.

    It's probably not going to happen for political reasons, but it would be healthier for higher ed in the long run if the state made Bright Futures more need-based. Let everyone who gets the grades and test scores get the award, but have it just be a nice piece of paper for families making over, say $125K or something.

    As for higher ed construction projects, they're largely a slush fund for well-connected political donors and construction companies.
     
  8. Jdarg

    Jdarg SoWal Expert

    Joined:
    Feb 15, 2005
    Messages:
    18,069
    Likes Received:
    1,960
    Thanks Beachmouse- I was hoping you would chime in since you seem to have good info on our education system.

    I am just a parent and have no technical knowledge on how all of this works, so I appreciate the input of those who have experience in how our public education system is funded. It appears I have a lot to learn, and once again, my eyes have been yanked open.
     
  9. TooFarTampa

    TooFarTampa SoWal Insider

    Joined:
    Jun 27, 2005
    Messages:
    5,434
    Likes Received:
    950
    Location:
    Native of Tampa now in Boston 'burbs. Left my hear
    Good point Beachmouse about how Bright Futures is artificially keeping tuition levels low. At the same time, taking it away from the upper-income folks would be a double whammy: not only would their child not get the financial help that has been promised for years, but tuition is bound to rise very rapidly once fewer people start getting scholarships from the state.

    Perhaps a sliding scale is in order based on income, but have everyone who meets the academic standards get something, no matter what the income level. Otherwise I'm sure we would have some good students falling through the funding cracks -- and a heck of a lot of angry parents.
     
  10. beachmouse

    beachmouse Beach Fanatic

    Joined:
    Dec 5, 2004
    Messages:
    3,501
    Likes Received:
    728
    Location:
    Bluewater Bay, FL
    Sliding scale is good. And it would be relatively straightforward to use the existing FASA structure to impliment something like that. Interesting compilation of family income and higher ed in Florida here: (edit- forgot to paste link and now can't find it)
    Average family income of students enrolled at:

    $20,000-$30,000- Florida A&M
    $30,000-$40,000- Barry University
    $50,000-$60,000- Saint Leo
    $70,000-$80,000- Florida Atlantic, Florida Southern
    $80,000-$100,000- Palm Beach Atlantic, Tampa, West Florida, South Florida
    $100,000 or more- Ave Maria, Flagler, Florida International, Florida State, Rollins, Central Florida, Florida, North Florida, Miami
     
    Last edited: Feb 25, 2009
  11. dgsevier

    dgsevier Beach Fanatic

    Joined:
    Mar 20, 2008
    Messages:
    327
    Likes Received:
    47
    Location:
    Nashvegas

    That's funny. I just left a meeting here where TN universities were complaining about losing profs to FL.

    go figure?
     
  12. ShallowsNole

    ShallowsNole Beach Fanatic

    Joined:
    Jun 22, 2005
    Messages:
    4,244
    Likes Received:
    728
    Location:
    Pt Washington
    Also, a lot of children who were infants when the Florida Prepaid College Plans first became wildly popular in the early 1990's are now in, or will soon enter, the state university system. These educations are also funded at a much lower rate, like the Bright Futures scholarships.
     
  13. mdd88jd

    mdd88jd Beach Lover

    Joined:
    May 26, 2008
    Messages:
    155
    Likes Received:
    210
    Thanks JDARG for attending the meeting last night. I have several comments and observations as a school board member and one of the five folks who will have to make these decisions.

    (1) This is really frustrating. We started this school budget year with a 12.0 million dollar budgeted fund balance (budgeted savings account). We must keep at least a 2.5% fund balance. We have absorbed, approximately, a 20% cut in funding since the beginning of this school year through the anticipated funds we are to receive for the 2009-2010 school year. In order to reach that level of funding and have the 2.5% fund balance, we must cut out of our budget for this year (i.e. to start next year) 8.0 million dollars. That is a lot of money.

    (2) Just to give you some real numbers, our budget started out with 68 million in revenue for this year. We anticipate starting out with 52 million in revenue next year. It could be 54 million, but, you get the picture.

    (3) 85% of that budget is in salaries. Thus, to get to the point where we meet that 54 million dollar revenue stream, we would have to cut or lay off a significant number of positions. The administration's suggestion (i.e., the Superintendent) is to lay off 56 teachers, 26 educational support persons, cut 10% out of the coaching supplements, cut athletic contests by 30%, etc. We asked the administration to look at some other ideas, i.e., a general rollback of salaries by 3% and some other ideas to try to avoid as many layoffs as possible.

    (4) As Jenny said, we are gathering all the information for one more workshop and then we will have to make a decision in late March.

    (5) The board did decide to authorize the schools to start planning for a seven period day at the high schools (vs. a four by four block schedue). Jenny and disagree to some extent on the need for 4x4, but, it is basically done at this point is my guess.

    (6) The numbers and cuts are in the operations side of the budget. Our capital budget is still fairly healthy. We are hoping, after the completion of the new Walton High School, that we can actually start construction of the new Emerald Coast High School. Constructions costs are cheaper now and we have the money (that is not transferable to the operations side) available to actually finish that building. Maybe that constrution could help the local economy. No real decision on going forward with that construction has been made.

    (7) Carlene's numbers are right as they relate to Florida's spending per child as it relates to other states. The new numbers, for 2008-2009 will put us at the bottom, 50th..... It is despicable that States like Mississippi, Louisiana and Alabama spend more per pupil than Florida. And, money does make a difference. The last time I check, New Jersey spends the most per child and they had the highest average SAT scores in the country. Although, DC seems to be an exception, the more you spend, the better your results.

    (8) Two years ago, Florida was dead last in the country in per pupil spending on higher education. Again, shameful.

    (9) The stimulus money could help depending on how the state distributes the money throught general state budget. It is true that much of the stimulus money is tied to Title 1, IDEA and school construction. However, if the state receives other funds to flesh out the budget, the other monies could be diverted back to education. To Governor Crist's credit, his current budget proposal for 2009-2010 appears to do just that. I understand that his current budget proposal would get us back to where we were when we started the 2008-2009 school year. For some reason, the Superintendent and her staff are very pessimistic that such will actually happen and are asking us to prepare for the worst. Frankly, I am not convinced that the Feds will approve the waiver, but, hopefully they will.

    Thanks guys.....
     
    Last edited: Feb 25, 2009
  14. GoodWitch58

    GoodWitch58 Beach Fanatic

    Joined:
    Oct 10, 2005
    Messages:
    4,816
    Likes Received:
    1,921
    mdd88jd, thanks for the post. The situation certainly seems dire...

    on #6, what is the reason for the construction decison not being made yet?

    I think Governor Crist is doing his best--after all, he did veto the Legislative cut of the education money and unlike some of the other GOP govs, he is willing to take the money.

    It's a shame that we Floridians have allowed the school situation to get into this condition. Our children deserve better.

    :angry:
     
  15. wrobert

    wrobert Beach Fanatic

    Joined:
    Nov 21, 2007
    Messages:
    4,134
    Likes Received:
    575
    Location:
    DeFuniak Springs

    Why not start making Bright Futures scholarships more targeted for certain fields? If the State of Florida is going to go after the biotech industry, then provide scholarships to those that make the grades that want to go into the biotech field if that is where the greatest need for employment lies.


    As for the per student funding being so low, I would think someone needs to again come up with a targeted dollar amount that is needed to fund the system. Just saying we want more so we will not be last may not accomplish a whole lot. Number 49 may just be funding a dollar more than us and the next 40 states may be tied. At some point in time, we need to decide what sort of education system we want, how much we want to pay people, and then figure out how much money it is going to take. Then tackling the funding issue, imho, would be an easier sell to the public.
     
  16. mdd88jd

    mdd88jd Beach Lover

    Joined:
    May 26, 2008
    Messages:
    155
    Likes Received:
    210
    We are just waiting on the estimated construction costs from the architect to make sure we can build it without seriously affecting the capital budget. Really think it will go foward.

    I agree with your assessment of Governor Crist. I think he is trying. His sister is the principal at a high school in south Florida. Maybe she has his ear.
     
  17. GoodWitch58

    GoodWitch58 Beach Fanatic

    Joined:
    Oct 10, 2005
    Messages:
    4,816
    Likes Received:
    1,921
    and he was the Commissioner of Education, so he has always had a good understanding of the need for improvement.
     
  18. Rollin' Tide

    Rollin' Tide Beach Comber

    Joined:
    Oct 6, 2008
    Messages:
    18
    Likes Received:
    4

    Where might this new high school be built? I thought that the newest school would be another middle school down here south of the bay.:confused:
     
  19. Bob Wells

    Bob Wells Beach Fanatic

    Joined:
    Jul 25, 2008
    Messages:
    3,043
    Likes Received:
    771
    Mark
    What would the average increase cost local Taxpayers if it was made up here? I know, people don't want to see taxes increased, but you have to ask yourself. Second, so Crist vetoed the Legistlators cuts in education but is still looking for tax cuts next year. Where do we think its going to come from?
     
  20. mdd88jd

    mdd88jd Beach Lover

    Joined:
    May 26, 2008
    Messages:
    155
    Likes Received:
    210
    Sorry, that long meeting wore me out. It would be a new Emerald Coast Middle School....
     

Share This Page