More unbudgeted items found in Manatee County school budget

kbergen@bradenton.comDecember 4, 2012 

MANATEE -- Since interim Manatee County Schools Superintendent David Gayler took office in the fallout over a budget deficit caused by millions in overspending, roughly $7 million of additional unbudgeted items have come across his desk.

They are "significant" and in several categories, he told board members Tuesday.

And they include items such as the international baccalaureate program at three district schools, overtime pay and band uniforms. Other programs, such as the hospital homebound program, are underbudgeted.

By meeting with department heads to find extra savings, looking to control overtime and noncontract hours, and taking advantage of excess funds in food service, the district can save $1.7 million. They also plan on holding off on $2.5 million in raises for American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, Supervisory and Managerial Personnel and the Manatee Education Association.

This fall, Gayler, Chief Financial Officer Michael Boyer and other staff members started looking into additional items that were not in the 2012-13 budget. Former superintendent Tim McGonegal resigned this September after announcing that the district reserves had a deficit of $3.4 million caused by unbudgeted items, such as teachers' salaries.

Boyer said district officials are learning that many of these items have not been budgeted in past years and funded later with reserves. The process worked when the district had money its reserves. This year it was a disaster.

"There was a fundamental practice to fund these items later," said Boyer, who joined the district after these mistakes were made. "It was a bad practice."

Katy Bergen, Herald education reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7081.

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