Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Schools List Ways to Cut $133 Million; P.E., Music, Arts Staff Are among Duval's Possible Reductions

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Schools List Ways to Cut $133 Million; P.E., Music, Arts Staff Are among Duval's Possible Reductions

Article excerpt

Byline: TOPHER SANDERS

Drastically reducing the number of arts teachers, freezing salaries and restructuring health care benefits are part of a $133 million list of cuts that Duval County Public Schools could make in the next fiscal year.

The district said last month it expects a budget shortfall of more than $98 million because of increased costs, less money from the state and having to make up for the $57 million it spent from its reserves in previous years.

The district projects its shortfall could balloon to $139 million if the state pushes forward with a class-size reduction initiative that was put on hold last year because of budget woes.

The gloomy financial picture forced the school district to put together a 30-item list of possible savings that would help the district make up the dollars.

"It's a dramatic reduction in our ability to serve students as well as we think we should," said Ed Pratt-Dannals, Duval's superintendent. "A lot of the positions are support-staff positions that work directly with students."

The list isn't official and the board hasn't discussed the possible cuts, but Mike Perrone, the district's budget director, said it's a road map to show the board how the district could find the savings.

The list of cuts includes everything from closing the Marine Science Center (a $180,000 saving) to ending televised board meetings ($315,000).

Among the big-ticket items: reducing dedicated staff for art, music, physical education, guidance, and media ($27 million), reducing employee hours ($20 million) and freezing salaries ($8.8 million).

If the arts cuts were made, students would still receive the instruction but likely from their regular teacher and not an arts specialist, Pratt-Dannals said.

"So while we can mandate the time," he said, "the quality would not be the same as if we had somebody who specialized in these areas.

"When we're potentially losing $100 [million] to $140 million on less than a $1 billion budget, it's going to impact schools and it's going to impact students and there's no way to get around it. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.