School District of Lee County readies to crunch budget numbers | News, Sports, Jobs
Lee County’s Schools Board learned last week that the district will begin the budgeting process from a location where they will be spending more than they will receive due to an unevenness in the planned budget and an expected decline in money by the state.
Budget director Kelly Letcher briefed on the Florida state legislature’s proposed first budget calculation, which has yet to come before the governor.
The enrollment projection that the state asked the district to increase is based on 96,432 students, an increase of 2,632 students from current numbers, and possibly a bit high.
“I’m not sure we will get there. We have some money behind us. So if we don’t get there, we won’t have to go back to schools for mid-year discounts. “ Letcher said.
She said 1,200 students, maybe a little more, are more of what they expect.
In addition, the current year’s budget increases by $ 9 million, which is better than expected. With that in mind, Letcher said $ 9 million, $ 7.4 million has already been negotiated with teachers and support unions TALC and SPALC to increase health coverage.
The Florida retirement rate also rose to 10.82 percent, increasing the district budget by $ 4.2 million.
One of the big cuts in the budget was reducing the class size.
“As I understand it, they say that they seem to have made the calculation wrong for years and they are correcting this this year. That’s a $ 10 million reduction from the proposal for the current year. We have had a great success. That made a difference. “ Letcher said.
Another drop is the district’s FTE dollar which is $ 8,011.98, a 1.75 percent decrease from last year. Letcher said with the reduction in class size, the dollars fell.
Also, no lottery dollars will come into the district to build into the budget. She said the lottery came to the district in two parts – school recognition and school improvement plan.
Letcher said they know the budget will increase by $ 11.6 million.
“The state is giving us $ 9 million. Some of this is being held back because we’re not sure we’re going to get all of the students to generate this. We’re starting next year in a place where we know we’re going to be spending more than we’re getting. “ She said. “We will have ESSER 2 funds to help us with this. We will begin meeting with academic services to have the best impact on student learning gains who will be the focus with these dollars. “
Board member Chris Patricca applauded the budget department for the work they have done this year, especially during the uncertain times of the pandemic.
“Thank you for your amazing ability to manage our finances through a year of the pandemic and to do so while you deal with all of the changing regulations.” She said. “You are a wizard this year and I really appreciate what you did.”
The provisional budget meeting is scheduled for June, a provisional budget meeting in July and the final budget hearing for September.