BY MIKE CAVALIERE | ASSOCIATE EDITOR
Volusia County Public Schools Superintendent Margaret Smith reported to the School Board Tuesday, Sept. 25, that the district is facing a $25 million deficit heading into the 2013-2014 school year. Without a drastic funding increase, she said, another 250 teachers will need to be laid off before the start of next school year
That would mean about 500 total teachers lost in two year’s time. Since 2007, the county has eliminated 1,908 positions, including 976 teachers.
“At our last School Board meeting ... you approved the budget for the 2012-2013 school year,” Smith told board members. “We were able to balance that budget, but not without serious reductions to our personnel ... and programs.”
That’s why the board voted in May to add a one-mill referendum to the Nov. 6 elections ballot, which would raise $26 million annually through county property taxes.
If the levy is not passed, though, Smith said, teachers would not be the only thing lost before next school year.
A reduction in art electives, advanced placement classes and elementary art/music teachers are just a few of the cuts officials would have to make, according to a complete list now posted online by the district (myvolusiaschools.org).
Other potential downsizing measures include “significant” class size increases, shared principals between schools, the combining of multiple grades in one classroom and fewer take-home classroom materials, such as textbooks.
“It is very sobering,” Smith added. “We are very concerned about maintaining the quality of instruction in our school district for our students.”
Other areas in which the School Board has made cuts to reduce its budget since 2007 include salary reductions for administrators, consolidation of bus routes, no new bus purchases in four years, a reduction in athletic programs and a Pay-to-Participate system for all sports programs.
If passed, the November millage levy would last four years. A one mill increase would mean an extra $5 per month for homeowners with houses valued at $100,000, after exemptions.
Representatives from the district’s Project Oversight Committee, which was formed in 2001 to ensure that half-cent sales tax revenues were being spent appropriately, also promoted a millage increase, highlighting the importance of a campaign strategy.
“If our kids are going to be educated, they can’t be educated by a book alone,” said Rev. Ricardo Spencer, the committee’s newest member. “We believe that a formal review of this issue must be initiated. ... We can’t hold off. ... If we fail to plan, we are planning to fail.”
The half-cent sales tax will remain in place until 2016 but only can be used for capital projects, whereas millage revenues can be used in the general fund.
The Volusia County School Board recognized two Ormond Beach students Tuesday, Sept. 25, for their achievement in the district’s PRISM (Promoting Regional Support in Science and Math) Project.
William Sam Markowitz, of Ormond Beach Middle School, was one of two students recognized as the district’s Most Outstanding Math students.
Emily Fichera, also of Ormond Beach Middle School, was one of two students who earned the title of the district’s Most Outstanding Science student.
Email [email protected].
A total of 59 Volusia County schools won Five-Star School Awards from the Florida Department of education this year — the highest number recorded in the district’s history, according to Pat Travis, volunteer coordinator.
The awards recognize exemplary community involvement in schools that meet 29 criteria for community/business partnerships, family involvement, volunteerism, student community service and school advisory councils.
The schools in Ormond Beach’s district zone to win this award are listed as follows:
Champion Elementary School (4th year award recipient)
Hinson Middle School (7th year)
Holly Hill Middle School (1st year)
Ormond Beach Elementary School (9th year)
Ormond Beach Middle (8th year)
Osceola Elementary (9th year)
Palm Terrace Elementary (3rd year)
Pathways Elementary (8th year)
Seabreeze High (6th year)
Tomoka Elementary (14th year)
Westside Elementary (8th year)