PBC school budget: $34-$50 million in the red - Fox29 WFLX TV, West Palm Beach, FL-news & weather

PBC school budget: $34-$50 million in the red

WEST PALM BEACH, FL (WFLX) - The budget advisory committee is looking at 23 different options to make up a $34 to $50 million shortfall to start 2012, the committee said Monday morning.

Of the 23 different options that were laid out by the district's budget advisory committeee, there was the possibility of a four-day school week, an audit of desks at the district, and the possibility of cutting spending for sports programs. 

Jennifer Elmore has a second grade son and a daughter in high school, and she doesn't like the idea of a four-day school week.

"Our whole society is built around an assumption that kids between a certain age are going to be in school during those hours and people have jobs and careers and families built around that," she said. "I just don't like it."

If the school district went to a four-day week for all schools the committee predicts, it would save about $6.8 million in transportation and utility costs. 

If the committee cut funding for sports programs the committee said it would save $8.7 million in general fund expenditures and $1.8 million in capital expenditures.  The committee also presented cutting extracurricular activities such as clubs which would save the county about $4 million.

"I think [sports and extracurricular activities] are great, but, I think, if the schools don't have the money to pay for all of those things then I think you have to cut there before you make cuts like a four-day a week school week," Elmore said.

The committee wasn't a fan of cutting extracurricular activities, sports programs or going to a four-day school week either, committee chairman Ed Tancer said.

"At the same time, we decided to just leave those on the table just because we don't know what the situation is going to be like," Tancer said.

One other option the committee discussed extensively was an audit of the district employees.

"They're not talking about teachers, but they're talking about everyone at the central office," Tancer said. "Looking at what their job functions are to ascertain whether they're all necessary."

Tancer says the reason teachers aren't subject to the audit is because of the reduction in class sizes.

"We need to actually add teachers at the district level," he said. "We can't cut any teachers, so the real significant cost that is left is the district."

But if there is an audit to see if some jobs can be cut, parents, like Elmore, worry it will come with a cost. "That's still something we don't know," Tancer said. "There are some peer groups that may come in and do audits at no cost I assume, but that is a good question."

If the answer is an initial cost, Elmore doesn't support an audit.  "I'm not for spending vast amounts of money on audits and consultants that end up costing extra money," Elmore added.

Now the budget advisory committee will formulate a budget to present to the public next week before it goes to the school board later in the month.  They also expect to make a decision on an audit over that time period, as well.

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