Posted: Tuesday, September 4th 2012 at 9:18pm
City schools defer decision on furlough day restoration
By Marc Eggers Staff
GAINESVILLE – When the Gainesville City School Board reached the point in their work session agenda where the topic of restoring furlough days was to be considered, Superintendent Dr. Merrianne Dyer asked the Board to momentarily table their discussion until Chief Financial Officer Janet Allison gave her report.
"The Board had asked me to bring (a list of) possible days to you," Dr. Dyer said Tuesday evening.
But as Board members began to examine Dr. Dyer’s list and wonder if there could be as many as four or five furlough days reinstated, Dr. Dyer told Board members, "I might suggest that we table this until Ms. Allison’s report, because we have budget amendments…I would like the Board to hear the bigger picture of our responsibilities."
The Board agreed to wait and learn of the new financial concerns to which Dr. Dyer referred.
Allison explained to the Board that several factors had become causes for concern.
First of all, Allison pointed out that the school system won’t know an ending general fund balance until September 17. That’s the same date the school board is to vote on final adoption of the 7.59 millage rate. While the balance has been estimated at $6.7 million, and Allison said the system is comfortable using that number, the city is awaiting some final data on the county tax digest and that might change the school system's projections slightly. The county’s deadline extension for submitting the digest was Tuesday, September 4. The city will use those final numbers as well as other possible exemption amounts to calculate tax bills.
Then Allison pointed out the need to hire a new teacher and several para-professionals due to class sizes. Allison estimated that cost increase at nearly $140,000.
A third factor was the mandate to provide for the needs of all special education students regardless of budget limitations. An estimate of $375,000 was tendered as being needed to cover additional unexpected costs.
"We have received many, many special-ed students and some of… their needs have increased. We have to provide the services even though we have exceeded our funding," Dyer explained.
"I would just caution you," Dyer said, "to wait and get a full picture…before we address the furlough days…so you would have a better feel of where you are landing and what we have to adjust for."
The Board nodded, almost in unison, agreeing to table the discussion until their next meeting.
"I’m being cautious," Dyer said.
"Your caution," Board member David Syfan said, "has helped put us in good financial place, and we don’t want to do anything to effect that."
OTHER WORK SESSION NEWS
Tonight’s work session opened with the reading of the minutes from the School Board’s very first meeting over 120 years ago on July 15, 1892.
No budget issues, property tax increases or furlough days were mentioned in those historic minutes.
In celebration of the occasion a new "GCSS 120th Anniversary Logo" was revealed. It was designed by a former student, Ethan Hopkins (GHS class of 2007), who currently serves in Africa with the Peace Corps.
The logo will be used throughout the current school year.
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