Posted: Monday, March 4th 2013 at 9:32pm
Gainesville Schools ready for fed cuts
By Jerry Gunn Staff
GAINESVILLE - 'We knew it was coming and we planned for it..." that's what Gainesville School Superintendent Marianne Dyer said Monday night about the potential impact of federal cuts from the 'Sequester'.
It turns out the 'sky is not falling', at least where Gainesville Schools is concerned, because of last week's federal cuts that took effect because of the so-called Sequester. Dr. Dyer says the system was ready.
“We knew federal funding was going to decline,” Dr. Dyer said. “We had hoped that it would be done with more thoughtful Congressional action and not across the board cuts. For this fiscal year we did plan on between eight and nine percent reductions on all federal funds, so we held the money aside. Therefore it is not going to impact the budget negatively this fiscal year.”
Dyer said next fiscal year would see a five to six percent fed funding cut, quite possibly more.
“We will budget on five to six percent less for sure, possibly for more,” Dr. Dyer added. “We would just plan on having five to six percent less in those federal funds.”
EARLY FAIR STREET OPENING?
The New Fair Street Elementary School could be ready to open by the beginning of the new school year in August. That was Dr. Dyer’s optimistic projection.
"I will say that is Merrianne Dyer the person’s best guess right now,” she said.
“It is going extremely well, we are moving ahead of schedule.”
Dr. Dyer said the school’s construction manager told her not to ‘count her chickens before they hatch’ and she anticipated the end of March or first of April would bring a firmer completion commitment.
The original completion date was October; Dyer said the early finish of Fair Street and other projects could free up residual funding that could be shifted to other school projects.
“With the anticipation of the end of the projects the Board is beginning to look at what funds we could have available.”
Dr. Dyer told board members she projected 7,834 students in Gainesville’s schools for 2013-2014 and that means all system schools are fully enrolled. It also means tuition students have a tighter schedule for enrollment. The projected enrollment figure includes 196 employee children and 407 tuition students.
“For the first time we’re going to open tuition enrollment for two weeks in March and close it until the beginning of school,” Dr. Dyer said. “We will do a waiting list and address it one by one.”
Dr. Dyer added that non-resident students registering after March 15th would be put on a waiting list and won’t be accepted unless an opening becomes available.
PLANNING AHEAD, MUNDY MILL
Board members voted to move ahead with planning a new Mundy Mill school without making any financial decisions on the project for now. Mundy Mill developer Wendell Starke donated a 17 acre site years ago with the agreement that a school would be built on the site by the year 2020.
“The funding source for that still lies with capital outlay and either a future E-SPLOST or general obligation bonds,” Dr. Dyer said. “Looking at that is really two years off but there are several things we can do, including having the site's environmental study renewed and work with the neighborhood on magnet programs.”
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