Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Schools Get Extra State Money; Big Hike in Operating and Capital Funding

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Schools Get Extra State Money; Big Hike in Operating and Capital Funding

Article excerpt

Byline: Mary Hurst

NASSAU COUNTY -- The Florida Department of Education is giving the Nassau County School District an additional $7.4 million to operate county schools during the 2006-07 school year and an additional $8.7 million to help build 41 additional classrooms over the next five years.

This represents more than an 11 percent increase in both operating and capital funding, School Superintendent John Ruis said last week.

Of the additional operating funds, $3.7 million is allocated to specific categories, such as transportation, instructional materials and class-size reduction.

"It does include money for growth," Ruis said.

The new Yulee High School will receive more than $1.8 million to pay for utilities, personnel and additional operating costs.

The capital funding includes $6.5 million to build new classrooms, $1.3 million for additional new construction and $866,000 for maintenance.

"We are close to hiring architects to build additional classrooms," Ruis said. "We are very grateful to the Legislature for their generosity this year. But we are also realistic enough to know that we can't depend on this funding to be this generous every year."

The school district won't have a problem spending the $1.9 million balance in operating funds. Ruis said the school system is facing increasing costs in a variety of areas, including:

increased retirement funding of $906,349;

$367,219 in property insurance increases;

$67,000 for fuel;

$153,500 in higher utility costs;

four additional teachers totaling $210,000 annually; and

hiring two additional custodians for $63,212 annually;

School officials still are trying to determine how much the school system will have to contribute to fund operations of the new joint-use technical training high school. …

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