Bay County School Board Members Meet With Legislators

Bay County school board members met with Representatives Marti Coley and Jimmy Patronis Tuesday morning to address critical issues involving the district's current budget crisis.

Board members told the lawmakers they'd like more flexibility to move capital outlay money to the general fund. Capital outlay includes money from millage, earmarked for buildings and facilities. The general fund is what pays for other operational costs, like personnel.

Last year legislators allowed some flexibility with the funds, and board members would like this to continue for 2009-2010.

"Right now the money being cut is all from our operational budget. We'd like to slip some of those from capital outlay into the operational fund. Not forever, but just enough so that we can get through this. Because we're in a survival mode right now. We are desperately trying to maintain the education of our children and we're very, very close to finding that difficult to do," said Ginger Littleton, Bay Co. School Board Chair.

Board members also urged the legislators to find new sources of revenue, in lieu of budget cuts.

Superintendent Bill Husfelt says he expects the district could experience another 11-16 million dollar funding shortfall next year. Since 85 percent of the district's budget is personnel costs, that could mean job cuts unless something change.

Coley says she believes the discussions have been helpful.

"As we move through this process, as we face tough economic times we are sitting down at the table saying 'ok, what can we do together as partners to make sure we're providing the best education, quality education and we are affecting those classrooms in the least possible way,'" said Rep. Marti Coley, Marianna.

Sen. Don Gaetz was invited to Tuesday's meeting, but did not attend.


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