Brevard Schools stave off budget cuts

Published On: May 14 2014 06:50:20 AM EDT
Desk

VIERA, Fla. -

Brevard Public Schools will avoid budget cuts, at least for next school year.

According to Local 6 News partner Florida Today, the school district is expecting more than $13 million in additional state money for the 2014-15 school year.

"At this point, we have no intentions of looking at cuts for 2014-15," said Judy Preston, associate superintendent of financial services, after a presentation at Tuesday night's Brevard School Board meeting.

That's good news for students and teachers. School district leaders had presented a cut list totaling $18 million, including the worst-case scenarios of cutting elementary art and music programs.

Four community meetings were held this spring, sparking community debate about the district's finances and the need for a half-cent sales tax.

Officials say the tax is still needed: It would pay for school building repairs, and prevent additional cuts in the 2015-16 school year.

But next school year, the additional $13 million is expected to be enough to ward off cutbacks.

Some of that money is earmarked for specific purposes, such as digital textbooks, or will go to charter schools, as the district acts as a pass-through for the publicly funded but privately run schools.

After factoring in those items, plus an increase in the employer's retirement contributions, the district will have an estimated $8.4 million next school year.

It's not yet clear how that will be spent in Brevard's operating budget, which pays for most day-to-day items, such as salaries. Elected officials will hear budget recommendations at a workshop in June.

In addition, Brevard is expecting an additional $1.3 million in Public Education Capital Outlay funds, which will help pay for maintenance and renovation.

The state cut PECO funding in recent years; the last time Brevard received it was in 2010-11.

"Finally, public schools are back in the arena," Preston said. "We used to get quite a bit of money."

In addition, both the state and the district are projecting an increase in the county's tax rolls: Between 4.7 percent and 7 percent, depending on if you factor in the new Florida Power & Light facility.

It's not yet clear how much the uptick will raise for Brevard's budget, due to a formula calculation called compression, which attempts to compensate counties that are below the state average in the amount they're able to raise for per-student funding in property taxes.

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