Our Goal Should Be to Keep Nassau Public Schools on Upward Track

By Adkins, Janet | The Florida Times Union, July 26, 2008 | Go to article overview

Our Goal Should Be to Keep Nassau Public Schools on Upward Track


Adkins, Janet, The Florida Times Union


Byline: Janet Adkins

The recent proposed reductions in the School Board budget have raised a number of questions and concerns among parents, school employees and taxpayers. As a member of the School Board, I have found it helpful to do some research and explain the details in "plain language" as opposed to the technical terms frequently used in government.

In education, there are lots of numbers such as "per student allocation," "weighted full-time equivalent," and many others. So many times, it is much simpler to just look at the bottom line.

The bottom line for Nassau County is that we are expecting a shortfall of roughly $2.5 million in funding. This number is based on the total potential funding published at the end of legislative session from last year to this year. The total funding for both state and local dollars for the 2007-08 school year was calculated at $79,905,672. The total funding anticipated for the 2008-09 school year is $77,419,673.

As we all know from recent years, these numbers are constantly changing. They change based on the number of students we will have next year, and they may change based on the strength of the economy. The administration is targeting $4 million in budget cuts to deal with escalating operating costs and the expectation of further state cuts.

So why $4 million in budget cuts and not $2.5 million? Each year the district is obligated to fund the salary step increases for our employees; this is expected to be approximately $700,000. The remaining $800,000 will cover increased energy costs to operate our schools and buses and for further anticipated state cuts.

The reality is that education is a service and a people business. Roughly 80 percent of the School Board budget is allocated to funding personnel. Anytime we face a budget shortfall, it is very difficult to make cuts without impacting personnel.

The fear and concern I have heard repeatedly in the community is how do we avoid stepping backward on education in our community and ensure we have the funding to retain the best teachers and offer the best public education in the state? …

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