Pasco schools adopt tentative budget

The Pasco County School Board has adopted a tentative budget for the 2018-2019 fiscal year, with a final public hearing set for Sept. 18.

The proposed general fund budget for 2018-2019 is $630,860,337. That’s a $15.2 million increase over last year’s general fund, which represents roughly a 2.47 percent increase.

The capital projects funds in the budget for 2018-2019 total $244,516,610, which reflects an increase of $31.5 million or 14.78 percent above the 2017-2018 budget.

Capital Projects Funds are used to account for expenditures on acquisition or construction of major capital facilities and improvements to existing facilities. The funds also are used for the maintenance of approximately 2,400 buildings across the district, to purchase land and to pay for equipment, technology equipment, buses and vehicles.

Under the proposed rate, the owner of a $125,000 home, after deducting the $25,000 homestead exemption, would pay $627.90 in school taxes — a decrease of $28.60 from last year.

The state’s basic student allocation for the 2018-2019 school year is $4,204.42. That’s 47 cents more per student than last year. But, since the state applies a cost of living adjustment, Pasco’s base student allocation for the coming year is $4,144.72.

Here are some big-picture highlights of the proposed budget:

  • Teaching makes up 61.78 percent of the district’s expenditures
  • Teaching combined with other school-level programs, including transportation, media, counseling, psychological services, school administration, capital outlay, community services, and operations and maintenance, makes up 92.38 percent of the operating budget
  • Curriculum development and staff training make up 3.26 percent of the operating budget.
  • Human resources, finance, purchasing, warehouse, data processing and mail services
    make up 4.36 percent of the operating budget.

While the state provides funding for schools, it also dictates how much of that money is spent.

For instance, during the 2018 session, the Florida Legislature passed the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Public Safety Act, which addresses gun violence on school campuses and promotes school safety. The bill requires armed security guards at every school. Each of those officers is required to undergo training, a background check, drug screening and psychological evaluation.

Pasco already has School Resource Officers at its middle schools and high schools, and is adding school security safety guards at its elementary schools this year.

The public safety act also requires the development of a mental health assistance plan, which will establish or expand school-based mental health care, through assessment, diagnosis, intervention and treatment.

The Safe Schools allocation of $3,725,606 will be used for school resource officers, school safety guards, traffic control and year-end security.

The Mental Health allocation of $1,721,460 will be used to expand school-based mental health

In another area, the district must provide an additional hour of intensive reading beyond the normal school day, for the entire year, at 10 schools that were identified as low-performing schools.

The district also intends to spend its Digital Classrooms allocation of $1,419,851 for computers, iPads and digital devices to support the district’s classrooms.

The budget also includes $80,459,730 for debt service, which is an increase of $5.9 million or nearly 8 percent higher than 2017. The district must repay debt service before making other expenditures.

The budget also lists scores of capital projects, including several in central and east Pasco.

They include:

  • Major renovation/remodeling of Land O’ Lakes High School, Woodland Elementary School and Zephyrhills High School
  • Construction of the new Cypress Creek Middle School
  • Design of a kindergarten through eighth grade school at Starkey Ranch
  • Cafeteria renovations at several schools, including Denham Oaks Elementary, Chester W. Taylor Elementary and Lacoochee Elementary
  • Replacement/repairs of heating, air conditioning and ventilation systems at Centennial Elementary and Sand Pine Elementary
  • Site improvements at Wendell Krinn Technical High School, a new technical high school that is opening this fall in the former Ridgewood High School, which was closed and refurbished, in New Port Richey

Published August 15, 2018

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