School Board Members DIscuss Tentative Budget

By: Erica Rakow Email
By: Erica Rakow Email

Bay County School Board members are in preliminary stages of adopting their 2010-2011 budget. Tuesday’s budget workshop gave them the opportunity to discuss a tentative spending plan and they're once again concerned about unfunded mandates from the state.

"They're frustrated we don't have enough money to pay for more SRD's. They're frustrated that we don't have more money for health nurses and the concerns they have about some of the legislation that some of the requirements that we have to do that's mandated by the state," said Bay Count Schools Superintendent, Bill Husfelt.

Their biggest obstacle right now is battling the strict class size limit.

"It's going to be a very expensive venture to fix and so we know that, that's part of the reason why our budget is set up the way we have it. We've had to put money aside just for that because if not, we'll be fined by the state," said Husfelt.

The toughest limits of the 2002 class size amendment take effect this year. The law limits Pre-k through 3rd grade classes to no more than 18 students. Grades 5 through 8 can have a maximum of 22 students, and grades 9 through 12, no more than 25.

It's forcing the school district to hire more teachers, build more classrooms, cancel some class offerings, or a combination of those actions. It's also becoming disruptive.

"I can't think of anything worse then to have your grandchild or child moved after four days of getting used to a teacher and having to get used to a new teacher and with classroom size, unfortunately, that may have to happen," said School Board Member, Donna Allen.

Board members agree the best remedy is partner teaching, 2 teachers in one classroom.

Another issue is universally free lunch.

"State is coming and saying everybody at those schools gets the breakfast or the lunch and we just can't do that," said Allen.

The program would cost the board more than $100,000 a year. Allen doesn't think the board should fund the program.

"At some point you have to role model for your children that if you are in need, then you go and ask for that help and then we help you. Not just give it to you cornucopia because you happen to be in a school that happens to have 80 percent free and reduced lunch," said Allen.

The class size amendment is back on the November ballot for voters to reconsider. Amendment 8 would let public schools go back to using school wide averages instead of placing a cap on each classroom.

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