School board urged to cut spending

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By Steve Waters, Sports Editor

In a General Fund budget review, the School Board of Levy County on Tuesday was warned that so far this school year, spending has only decreased 3 percent from last year, rather than the required 7 percent.

Director of Finance Bob Clemons, speaking to the board, said at the current rate of spending, the school district would be about $1.4 million over the approved budget by the end of the school year.

Both Clemons and superintendent Bob Hastings said that all options were being considered as to how to stay within budget.

Adding to the districts budgetary concerns was an updated student full time enrollment (FTE) estimate, which showed, as of Oct. 27, a decrease of 77 students in the FTE counts. Clemons said that it could total almost 100 students once all factors are considered.

Much of state funding for school districts is distributed based on a school district’s FTE. Clemons said that the decrease could amount to $665,246 in lost revenue.

The decrease in FTE, however, was much smaller than in the 2008-09 school year, Clemons said. During that span, enrollment in Levy County schools dropped by 215 students.

Also at the meeting, Cameron Ward, a teacher at Williston Middle School, spoke to the school board about concerns teachers have about a policy to report time used during planning periods.

Under the new directive, school principals required teachers to document how all time was used during their planning periods, including time spent grading papers and administrative work. Hastings said that the idea of the plan was to prevent the use of planning periods for personal reasons.

Ward said that the directive was putting a burden on teachers, and added that the policy was inappropriate.

“All the teacher’s I’ve talked to feel it’s a slap in the face,” Ward said.

Hastings disagreed with the assessment, adding that teachers should be responsible for what they do on company time. He acknowledged that there may be discrepancies in how each school documents the time.

Board member G. Frank Etheridge, representing District 3, Williston, was not present for Tuesday’s meeting.