PASCO -- The man who crunches the numbers for Pasco schools could have presented a balanced budget for the school board's approval, despite harsh cuts in state and federal money sent to the district.
That is, if voters had passed the bond in April -- then the district wouldn't have to slice off $3 million in operating money to spend on buildings.
As it stands, Howard Roberts, director of fiscal services, will offer up a plan Tuesday that moves $3 million out of district reserves into the capital fund, almost all of it for portable classrooms to house the ever-growing student population.
The board will vote on a 2011-12 budget of nearly $151 million Tuesday. If approved, the proposal will leave the district with just over $20 million in its savings account, half of which has been set aside to deal with the fallout of state cuts and bond failure in coming years.
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The district will lose $2.6 million in state money this coming school year because of teacher salary reductions and the cut of monies to lower classroom sizes for the youngest kids, Roberts said.
It also will lose more than $4 million in federal money, most of which was designated for particular programs such as special education.
The district has used its federal money wisely in the past few years, in anticipation of coming cuts. Rather than use it to hire teachers, Pasco has spent that money on equipment and training for existing teachers. Now the loss of that money doesn't trigger layoffs and the teachers still are trained, Roberts said.
And the district could have made up all but $50,000 of the state cuts because of several factors.
When state money started its decline a few years ago, the district put austerity measures in place, such as keeping staffing levels in all areas to a minimum, Roberts said.
Those measures still are in place. For example, no additional classified staff, which includes anyone from janitors to teaching assistants, was hired this year despite growing enrollment.
The district reached a compromise with its teachers for the pay cut mandated by the Legislature. Teachers agreed to be furloughed for the equivalent of two days, leaving the district to absorb one and a half days of pay not reimbursed by the state.
As a result, total salaries paid to teachers are down by more than $300,000 -- to about $66.3 million -- even though the district added the equivalent of 37 full-time teachers to meet rising enrollment.
Pasco also hired the equivalent of 14 full-time teachers for its expanded all-day kindergarten program, but those will be paid with specially designated state money.
On the other hand, the increase in enrollment does bring in extra state money. The budget proposal includes a conservative estimate of 2.5 percent more students, bringing the total to almost 15,000 in the district, up from about 14,400.
The increase is likely to be closer to 5 percent, as it's been for years. But district officials for years have budgeted for moderate increases rather than hire too many teachers and find out later that the uptick was smaller than they expected, Roberts said.
But although the students bring more state money to the district, they cost money in supplies and even more in classrooms.
The district will spend almost $2.5 million on 11 portable classrooms this year, Roberts said. And it has almost $3.5 million set aside in its reserves to buy 15 more in the following two years.
Another $1 million in reserves is earmarked for something called "Student Scheduling Options."
That money will be needed for the transition to a Year-Round Multi-Track schedule that's designed to free up classroom space. The new schedule won't be decided on until late summer or early fall, officials have said.
If approved, it would go into effect in fall 2012.
The budget proposal already plans for further reductions in state money during the next four years. It marks $5.1 million of reserves to compensate for future cuts.