Latest News

Manatee school district increases budget-cut recommendations

MANATEE — The Manatee County Schools superintendent’s final budget recommendations include even more cuts in personnel costs, but abandons a plan to reduce substitute teacher and aide pay.

Superintendent Tim McGonegal increased his total budget cuts for the 2010-11 school year from $8.87 million to $9.08 million in a Monday memo to school board members.

The additional cuts come from the budget lines “reducing district office positions and levels of service” ($305,000) and “no new hires, use long term subs” ($490,000).

A proposed $261,000 savings from reducing substitute teacher and aide pay by $7 per day was removed from McGonegal’s recommendations. Another $324,000 was lost when estimated proceeds of a proposed .25-mill property-tax increase were lowered.

Jim Drake, the district’s assistant superintendent for business services, said Wednesday the cuts in district office positions, which after the latest addition total $1.055 million, will not require layoffs.

He said the savings will come from the “elimination or holding open” of currently vacant positions, attrition and non-renewal of annual contracts for three Supervisory, Administrative, Managerial and Professional (SAMP) positions.

The no new hires cuts, now a total of $950,000, come from the assumption that the equivalent of 25 teachers will leave employment and be replaced by long-term substitutes, Drake said. Substitutes earn $100 per day, just more than half what full-time teachers earn, with no benefits.

McGonegal made preliminary recommendations for budget cuts at a June 28 board meeting. The board is set to vote on the proposed cuts Monday at the district’s administration building, 215 Manatee Ave. W.

Also on McGonegal’s list for recommended cuts for the 2010-11 school year: hiring some high school teachers for the first semester only, saving $440,000. He also recommends seeking advertising for the interior of school buses ($100,000).

Earlier this week, McGonegal said taxpayers might not see an increase despite the district’s plan to levy the .25 mill critical-needs property tax. The district hopes to sell property and use the receipts to lower the capital outlay millage from 1.50 to 1.25 mills, offsetting the property tax hike.

The school district has already slashed $44 million from its annual operating budget and eliminated 116 positions from district support services during the past two school years. Cuts stem from sharp declines in state funding caused by reduced state sales tax collections and decreasing property values.

Last year, the district worked with a $706.8 million budget. The general operating budget was $325 million.