Teacher Rallies Start; School Board Preps for Possible $97 Million Cut | Politics

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Teacher Rallies Start; School Board Preps for Possible $97 Million Cut
Politics, Schools
Teacher Rallies Start; School Board Preps for Possible $97 Million Cut

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- "Terrible, worse, draconian, catastrophic." 

That's how Superintendent Ed Pratt-Dannals described budget cuts today at a workshop in which the school board discussed how to handle a potential loss of $97 million.

The potential loss would come from Gov. Rick Scott's budget proposal in which he promised massive spending cuts.

While today's meeting covered several topics -- the intervene schools, vacant positions and governance included -- the big item was the budget.

Pratt-Dannals, in his remarks to the board, reiterated that the budget must be balanced no matter the dollar figure.

The options on the table are severe. One would cut health insurance for employees.

Another would eliminate non-core programs, including art, music, physical education, etc., or the elimination of staffing for all after-school programs, including sports and band.

Furloughs for all employees are a possibility as well; the amount would depend on the severity of the budget cut.

Four-day school weeks are another option, as is the elimination of all non-neighborhood transportation.

The school board started from the "worst-case" perspective, with Pratt-Dannals saying even if the cut is reduced to around 5 percent, it would still be the largest budget cut for public schools, both by percentage and dollar amount, in decades.

The education cuts are part of nearly $5 billion in spending cuts in Scott's budget proposal of $65.9 billion. The legislature will have the final say on the state's budget.

The school board will meet again Monday to continue the discussion.

Rallies today:

  • Awake the State, 5 p.m.- 7 p.m., 4300 Beach Blvd., protesting the proposed state budget
  • St. Johns teachers, sign waving, 4:30 p.m.-6:30 p.m., 312 and U.S.1 and State Route 16 at Publix
  • St. Johns County School Board Meeting, 6 p.m., 40 Orange St., St. Augustine 
  • Awake the State in Clay County, 4 p.m.-6 p.m., corner of Blanding Boulevard and Kingsley Avenue (Kmart parking lot), wear red and bring signs. Contact lea.rhoden@gmail.
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