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Levy schools looking to survive more cuts

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By Claude Lewis

BRONSON –The storm clouds that were on the horizon are now here for the School Board of Levy County.

Financial officer Robert Clemons believes that with proper precautions, Levy will be able to survive the spring state budget cut storm.

The 2008-09 school year is another story.

With additional state funding cuts estimated at more than a half million dollars, Levy is preparing to make moves that could shave a big chunk of money.

These moves revealed at Tuesday's school board meeting would hopefully prevent faculty and other staff casualties.

"That's the main thing,"said Clemons, who has been working hard to try and stay one step ahead of the shortfalls all school year.

Clemons has been figuring in the shortfalls all along. There was the $634,966 in the fall. Now there's an additional $527,174 this spring.

Clemons and Superintendent Clifton Norris are looking into ways to deal with the shortage without dipping too deep into the existing budget money.

Norris is forming two committees to turn over every stone. One is a Budget Action Review Committee, which will consist of administration staff. Another is a District Energy Committee, which will be compised of adminstration, principals and custodial staff.

Norris proposed some preliminary moves to get the ball rolling.

Board members approved a downsizing of summer programs to save an estimated $25,000. Included would be reducing length of ESE self-contained programs, reducing summer hours out of the general fund, and consolidating the third grade reading camps.

Then Norris detailed line item budget reductions that would save an additional $92,552. These were not passed, as board members wanted to first hear the committee findings and the outcome of the Legislative Session in early May.

The suggested line item reductions included:

* Cutting back some outside attorney fees ($10,000)

* Cutting back on field trips relying on school budget money ($17.652)

* Shaving districtwide accredation SAC Review ($10,000)

* Furniture an equipment ($10,000)

? Cars/trucks ($8,000)

* Athletic facility upgrades ($30,000)

? Recruitment and retention ($5,000)

* Defibrilators ($1,900)

Other areas of concern are subsitute usage and energy (electric) conservation.

An even larger budget storm looms for 2008-09.

Clemons estimates the state may cut $1,000,000 more.

That would be an F5 the county will have trouble dealing with.