Board to hunt for savings in school budget

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By Eryn Worthington


INVERNESS — Citrus County School board members today hope to resolve a $2 million shortfall in their 2013-14 budget during a 9 a.m. workshop.

Assistant Superintendent of Schools Kenny Blocker will present a list of potential cuts for board members to consider. The list is essentially the same drawn up last year for cuts that were not needed because of an increase in state funding.

The state is increasing funding again this year, but those increases are offset by a higher contribution to the state retirement fund, plus a drop in revenue brought about by the Duke Energy property assessment dispute and voters in 2012 rejecting the quarter-mill property tax for schools.

Along with Blocker’s list, the board is considering closing the Renaissance Center to create Renaissance-type programs in the high schools.

Another option is to move 15 media specialists in elementary and middle schools in to the classrooms, which would result in a $500,000 savings. After hearing from specialists, who attended the May 14 board meeting, board members are contemplating other avenues of savings.

Board members agreed to look more in depth at the budget in order to make choices with the least impact on students.

“Everything we do impacts our students,” said Superintendent of Schools Sandra “Sam” Himmel.

Proposals include:

* Moving 15 media specialists in the elementary and middle schools to classrooms, replacing them with full-time aides. Potential savings: $500,000.

* Eliminating Student Resource Officers. Potential savings: $250,000.

* Suspending Marine Science Station. Potential savings: $200,000.

* Eliminating middle school sports. Potential savings: $130,000.

* One percent pay reduction for all staff. Potential savings: $760,000.

Contact Chronicle reporter Eryn Worthington at 352-563-5660, ext. 1334, or eworthington@chronicleonline.com.

* WHAT: Citrus County School Board meeting.

* WHEN: 9 a.m. Thursday.

* WHERE: District administrative offices, corner of State Road 44 and Montgomery Avenue, Inverness.

* ONLINE: www.citrus.k12.fl.us.