Recent School Board Meeting Clarifications

May 23rd, 2013 School Board MeetingRecent School Board Meeting Clarifications

There have been several misunderstandings as to what took place at the workshop and board meeting and as well as misunderstandings regarding who suggested what and what will happen next. If you missed any portion of the meeting or if you have not had a chance to see the meeting for yourself you can view the meeting by visiting

At the workshop the board discussed the school staffing plans and how they relate to the overall general budget.  At the school board meeting the board formally approved the Staffing Plans for the 2013-2014 school year which included retaining the Media Specialist, continuing Renaissance with reduced staff ($250,000 savings), and reducing 11 high school teacher positions for a modified block schedule ($531,000 savings), along with some additional smaller savings.  During the workshop the district staff presented the school board with suggested savings that had been developed by the District Budget Committee last year.  It is important to note that the CCEA had two of its leaders­­– the CCEA President and CCEA’s lead bargaining negotiator– on the District Budget Committee.  Last year the District Budget Committee was assembled to look into budget reduction recommendations.  This committee was made up of a cross section of representatives from all the various Citrus County School Departments as well as a representative from each of the Citrus County Schools and leadership from the CCEA.  The committee used a survey to rank the impact of various programs or cuts at our schools.  All of the items mentioned during the May 23rd school board workshop came from this District Budget Committee.  (Click here to see the 2012-2013 presentation, suggestions and surveys.)  I want to also clarify that the suggestion of the 1% pay reduction for all employees (which included all administrators and board members) or the reduction of one workday for all employees (which included all administrators and board members) were suggestions made by the District Budget Committee and not the school board.  The board discussed several cost-cutting options that would directly affect students and schools.  After reviewing those suggestions the board agreed to send to the District Budget Committee suggested items that would require going through the bargaining process. The next bargaining meeting is on May 30thThis ONLY means that the board began a conversation with the Citrus County Educational Association (CCEA) regarding bargaining required items suggested by the District Budget Committee.

Nearly none of the Budget Committee’s suggested cuts were approved by the board for the 2012-2013 budget; in fact,  the school board had subsequently rejected most of  these suggestions two additional times, one as recently as the January 29th School Board Workshop meeting.  The board’s goal has been to maintain as many of our schools’ programs and curriculum as possible so over the last several budget years the board has used the Reserved Fund Balance (savings) to maintain these programs.  What the School Board recognized and what the board has stated is that we could no longer continue to use the reserved funds because we had limited reserved funds now remaining. Over the last several years we have used approximately $9 million in reserved funds to maintain programs and staff in our school district which has brought our Reserve Funds now down to the minimum required amount of 3.5% or $3.5 million.  After making the most recent cuts to the high school staff and the Renaissance Center we felt we had to address all of the non-bargaining suggested cuts from the District Budget Committee and now were left with having a conversation about the bargaining- required suggestions.  It is for that reason that at the May 23rd workshop the board sent the Budget Committee’s suggestions to the bargaining table.

Please understand that just because the board has sent the Budget Committee’s suggestions to the bargaining table does not mean the board agrees with all of those suggestions. However, one of suggested items that I feel is an example of an item to discuss is reducing the number of non-extra duty supplements.  (Supplements are additional pay for both extra and non-extra duties.)

Following the 2013 Legislative session Citrus County Schools learned that due to mandated instructional salary increases, increases in the Florida Retirement System rates, and casualty insurance costs increases, that, even with the added new educational funding by the 2013 Legislator, Citrus School District would still be facing approximately a $2 million shortfall.  After receiving news of the shortfall, the Executive Administrative Team met with principals as soon as possible to inform them of these new unforeseen budget challenges and to ask for their insight and assistance in making cuts.  The principals were asked to perform the terrible task of looking at what position they might be willing to surrender such as one less P.E. teacher, TOSAs, or media specialists.  They were asked about closing Renaissance, along with additional suggested cuts by the District Budget Committee.  At the May 14th and May 23rd School Board meeting the school board heard from many staff and teachers– many from the CCEA –asking the school board to not cut the Media positions or close the Renaissance building to make “Mini Renaissances”.  With more and more items being rejected this leaves the school board with fewer and fewer options to consider.

These are some of the toughest challenges we face as board members and it is why we have spent a great deal of time and research to get information from all levels in our schools before making decisions.

As a husband of a 22 year veteran teacher of the Citrus County School system I personally understand the challenges both economic and personal our staff face.  I deeply value each of our amazing staff and the work you have done to help make our students, schools and district a success.

If any of you have specific questions, please feel free to contact me.

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