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Superintendent's Budget Message

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With the state budget in distress, K-12 education throughout Florida is facing economic trouble like we have never seen.  State revenue collections for the past twenty-one months have failed to meet the level necessary to fund budgeted appropriations.  Even though the Leon County School District has suffered a 15.1 million dollar state-supported loss of revenue, I want to offer reassurance that we will never lose sight of our mission and that we will continue to focus on student achievement.

Due to an estimated state revenue shortfall of $700 million, school districts have been advised as of February 2009 to prepare for another possible 2% revenue reduction before the end of the fiscal year.  This could translate to an additional decrease of $3.1 million to $4.4 million for Leon County Schools, bringing the total revenue reduction over the past two years to $19.5 million.  This does not include the estimated $8 million for cost increases such as health insurance, utilities, and petroleum.  With all costs considered, the total decrease for Leon County Schools may reach $27.5 million by the end of this year.  There is every indication (very probable, if not almost a certainty) the state will reduce our support by another $12 million to $24 million next fiscal year (2009-2010).  The actual revenue losses would total $51.5 million.

We are working diligently to reduce the impact of these huge legislative cuts; however, this budget reduction process has proven to be extremely difficult.  District (non-school) reductions have totaled $14.8 million and school reductions have totaled $8.3 million, for a total of 23.1 million over the past two years.  District cost centers have eliminated 60 positions and schools have lost approximately 200 teachers.  Expenses such as travel and equipment purchases have been significantly reduced; considerable measures to reduce energy costs have also been implemented.  Regrettably, the reality is that quality programs we have been able to offer students and parents in the past may have to be reduced or eliminated. 

Now, more than ever, we need a strong partnership with our community as we develop avenues to continue our district’s educational excellence.  While this challenge may seem daunting, united we can continue to provide for the well-being of our students and to offer high-quality instruction.  After all, regardless of any financial crisis, our future leaders depend on us. 

I appreciate your partnership and support as we weather this storm together. As always, I encourage you to be active participants in every aspect of your child’s education.

Jackie Pons

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