BRADENTON -- Manatee School District officials held another budget workshop Monday night in an effort to gain ideas about cutting expenses for the 2012-13 school year. The challenge: Find 10 percent to cut, should it be necessary.
School Superintendent Tim McGonegal praised workshop participants for their efforts.
“It was a great exchange of information,” he said.
Budget workshops began in October, and are a part of the process to come up with next year’s school district budget. This time district officials have challenged departments to cut 10 percent from their budget for next year, hoping to come up with some viable ways to make cuts, according to Manatee County School Board Chairman Harry Kinnan.
“We realize to cut 10 percent, it’s going to be a challenge,” said Kinnan. “I think it’s a great exercise for the departments.”
They heard from Division of Support Services in the first budget workshop of the year. The division’s six departments, including technology and information, human resources, risk management, EdvTV, administrative support services and professional support services, presented their cases to district officials.
Tina Barrios, director of technology and information services, told board members rather than buying more hardware, her department wants to build a stronger technology infrastructure to allow students to bring their own technology devices to school, instead of being dependent on school resources.
“We are really getting to a point that we need to look at students carrying around their own devices and using their applications,” said Barrios. “We would like to move toward doing that in all of the schools.”
Manatee County School Board member Robert Gause observed that in order to get a 10 percent reduction in costs, most of the departments were showing a 10 to 12 percent salary reduction.
“That would generate about $900,000,” he said.
School board officials have not decided yet if they will act on any of the workshop suggestions. The district has yet to come up with a definitive budget for the next school year, and the workshops are a vital part of that process, according to Kinnan.
In the past three years, because of a recession and school funding slashed on federal and state levels, the Manatee County School District has had to cut $60 million out of its overall budget. Construction services have taken the biggest hit, with other departments losing so many employees that “they are having trouble functioning,” said Gause.
Recently Gov. Rick Scott announced plans to pump an additional $1 billion into public education. That will amount to about $200 million for Manatee County Schools, but it will not really do much to help financial constraints already brought on by the recession, according to Gause.
“It is still great,” he said. “Unfortunately, it is going to be eaten up by additional costs.”