COLLIER COUNTY — A day after announcing it will eliminate 100 positions, Collier County Public Schools on Wednesday released a detailed list of $16.5 million in recommended budget cuts that the district will present to the School Board at Tuesday’s meeting.
A budget reduction document lists every proposed budget cut, including 39 general assistant positions, 15 elementary related arts teachers, and half of the county’s high school media specialists. Non-position cuts include reducing individual school budgets by 5 percent, reducing central office budgets by 10 percent, and increasing furlough days for administrators, managers and supervisors.
Superintendent Kamela Patton said the recommendations are a result of weeks of community input. The district formed subcommittees that included parents, teachers and district staff, she said.
If the board approves the budget cuts, the district will use $3 million to $4 million in reserves rather than the $19 million it originally projected.
Michele LaBute, chief operations officer with the district, said that the district would not recommend a teacher pay-freeze to the board at this time because negotiations are ongoing.
But she said the district does not have raises or bonuses budgeted for teachers. The district proposed to the union that teachers will not receive a salary step increase if the district projects a budget deficit for the next three years.
“Let’s make some hard decisions now that we know we can function with,” LaBute said. “In another year or two years, it will help us avoid some major slashing.”
State funding today is $879 less per student than during the 2007-08 school year. That is with the $1 billion increase in education money from the Legislature this year.
“We are beginning to recover but it’s very slow,” LaBute said. “We don’t have optimistic thoughts that in two years we’ll be back to 2007-08 funding.”
School Board member Pat Carroll anticipates teachers and the public to address the board with concerns at Tuesday’s meeting. She said district staff did a great job in being honest and creative in the reductions.
“Sometimes you have to be more creative, but it doesn’t always take more money to provide a viable education,” Carroll said. “I’m convinced that we will accomplish what we want to accomplish for our students.”