School board approves tentative budget, lowers millage rate

By: Erica Rakow Email
By: Erica Rakow Email

Panama City-- They began the process months ago, in a deep hole.

"We were $22-million-dollars below the initial appropriations we requested in the revenue," said CFO for Bay District Schools, Jess Snyder.

By Tuesday night, they passed the best budget possible given the circumstances.

"We've made the cuts we've had to without impacting the learning environment as little as possible and with avoiding mass layoffs or cuts in services," said School Board Member, Steve Moss.

As a budget committee member, Moss says the most difficult task was asking teachers to take furlough days and freezing administration staff's pay.

"You know it affects their family. It affects the income they have to spend on groceries and school supplies and gas, those sorts of things. That was tough," said Moss.

They also resisted the quick fix, which was to raise property taxes.

“We promised we weren't going to raise the LCI if we got the half-cent sales tax and we're going to keep that promise. We're not going to raise it," said Superintendent Bill Husfelt.

"We actually lowered the millage by .285 mills which is more than a quarter of a mill," said CFO Snyder.

This year's budget wasn't the only thing on display for board members. Posters outlining concerns and challenges for next school year were up on the walls as the board anticipates even deeper cuts.

"I've been concerned for this year for the last 3 or 4, preparing for it. But now that we're here, yes, it's next year and the year after," said CFO Snyder.

The district pulled $10-million-dollars out of the reserve account to survive this year.

Even if board members had raised property taxes, Husfelt says that money cannot be used to pay teacher salaries and benefits.

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