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Media Releases: July 22, 2003
Superintendent Joseph Joyner shared his plan
for balancing the St. Johns County School District’s
$9.5 million budget shortfall for 2003-2004 with the School
Board today at a Special School Board meeting scheduled
to approve the public advertisement of the tentative budget.
The major savings to the district will come from the transfer of capital funds
to the operating budget. Approximately $6.4 million in maintenance and other
facility costs will be charged to the district’s capital outlay budget
instead of to the general operating fund. Districts receive a separate capital
outlay budget to cover the costs of building, renovating, and maintaining facilities,
so this fund transfer will not negatively impact students or teachers.
Another $800,000 will be saved by reducing school operating budgets by 7% and
district operating budgets by 14%. Other savings will be realized by reducing
electrical and water consumption ($300,000) and by reducing property insurance
premiums by increasing the deductible from 3 to 5 percent ($84,000).
The school district also plans to generate additional revenue including $200,000
from Medicaid reimbursements and $114,000 from increasing the cost of rental
and fee-based activities.
Minimizing the impact on the classroom was the primary objective in presenting
a balanced budget, according to Dr. Joyner. No current employees will lose
their jobs, but the district has imposed a hiring freeze on non-teaching positions.
This is expected to result in a cost savings of $611,000.
The district is also realigning staff positions as a means of balancing the
budget. Each high school will reduce its staff by two teachers for a $337,000
savings, and each middle school by one teacher for a $321,000 savings. An additional
$100,000 will be saved by reducing substitute teacher expenses and $233,000
by transferring eligible staff expenditures to the district’s federal
IDEA (Individuals with Disabilities Education Act) grant. These cost saving
measures and additional revenue total $9.5 million dollars, the amount needed
to create a balanced budget for 2003-2004.
The current budget deficit was created by a shortfall in state funding that
did not allow the district to meet agreed–upon salary increases, growth
and class size requirements, transportation needs, and the cost of opening
Durbin Creek Elementary School. State funds were also insufficient to cover
the increased costs required by the Florida Retirement System, Worker’s
Compensation Program, and other insurance programs.
In deciding how to prioritize budget reductions, the Superintendent met with
key staff to develop a plan that would minimize the impact on school budgets
while still implementing the state class size requirements. The district also
agreed to protect negotiated salary increases and funding for Supplemental
Academic Instruction (SAI), school technology, and instructional materials.
Other primary considerations included better management of limited physical
resources, reallocation of expenses from the general fund, maintaining high
quality educational facilities, minimal impact to the district’s five-year
building plan, and continued implementation of the Technology Strategic Plan.