Hearing Monday night gives public a chance to comment on Manatee schools budget

eearl@bradenton.comJuly 29, 2013 

MANATEE -- The Manatee County School Board will hold a public hearing Monday night before approving the millage rate and the proposed budget for fiscal year 2013-2014.

The proposed budget cuts include a reduction of $514,929, or 12.43 percent, in the media service and school library budget and a reduction of $610,081, or 69.56 percent, in the instructional technology budget.

The hearing is at 5:45 p.m. at the school district administration building, 215 Manatee Ave. W., Bradenton.

The proposed budget also calls for a $12.7 million, or a 6.21 percent increase, in the instructional services budget. The $218 million instructional service budget includes salaries, benefits, school supplies, advanced placement and international baccalaureate programs and the athletics and art departments, said deputy superintendent of instruction Diana Greene.

School board chairwoman Karen Carpenter said the school board will listen to more information from district staff about the details of the budget. Carpenter said that she is expecting a specific list of the programs that the district is expected to fund.

Carpenter said budget problems in the past included spending money for programs that were not planned for in the budget.

"We will be looking at every line item, nook and cranny," Carpenter said. "It is a two-fold meeting, for the budget and the millage."

Carpenter added that she is looking forward to questions from the community.

"I welcome public participation, but I don't know what their concerns are," Carpenter said. "I hope we will continue to hear from the public as we make more information available."

The school board will approve a tentative budget it can continue to adjust until Sept. 9, when a final budget will be approved.

"Even then, your budget is your best estimate of your year," Carpenter said. "We could have changes with amendments, or write a grant for a program. There all sorts of things that could cause budget adjustments. It is not in concrete."

Carpenter said that the district plans on starting the budget process for next year sooner, under the direction of the new budget director, a position that is still vacant. Carpenter said the district hopes to have a budget director in place by Aug. 12,

The district is also trying to organize and put a budget committee in place by October.

"We know we are very late this year," Carpenter said. "We know we are behind, but we're catching up. The staff are working very hard to get it right this time."

The school board will also vote to approve the millage rate.

While the millage will stay close to the same as last year with a .017 decrease, taxes will increase with higher property tax values leading to increased revenue for the school district.

The school district is expected to bring in $196 million in property tax revenue.

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