Manatee County school lays out budget cuts - WFLA News Channel 8

Manatee County school lays out budget cuts

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MANATEE COUNTY, FL (WFLA) -

Manatee County School officials say drastic cuts are needed to save the school district.

Superintendent Rick Mills says the school system has not met its budget three years in a row so more than $21 million in cuts are going into effect for the next school year.

The Manatee County School board has some tough decisions to make, and over the past few weeks, many have expressed their worries.

It's no secret the school district has some serious money woes. Officials say it's overstaffed and has not met its budget for years.

So on Monday, Superintendent Rick Mills laid out a game plan to tackle it.

"The situation is much more dire than I had anticipated when I arrived here," said Mills.

In April, a transition team spent a week visiting the school district to examine the operation and finances.

The team then produced an Economic Recovery Plan.

They recommend more than $21 million dollars in cuts.

"We have not done a very good job at all at supporting our schools," said Mills.

Some of the cuts include slashing 182 teaching jobs, closing Central High School, reducing the number of fleet vehicles, and increasing the temperature in school buildings to 77 degrees.

Mills said, "We have to address the challenges we have. We are at the fiscal cliff. If we don't take the most austere and extreme measures to turn this school district around, we will be subject to state takeover."

One big source of contention was the idea of teacher layoffs.

School officials say even with the layoffs, they will be well within the state recommended teacher-to-student ratio.

"We'll have more than adequate teachers in our schools to deliver instruction. So I would ask for the support that I need and our team needs to move us forward as a school district," said Mills.

After the cuts are made, the school system is setting aside reserve money to hire new teachers and provide 2% raises to all employees except senior management.

Teachers will already be getting a raise from the state.

Mills said, "We want to be very transparent. We want to build and restore public trust, we want to become financially stable as a school district."

The cuts are expected to take place before and during the upcoming school year.

Superintendent Rick Mills will lay out more details in a public meeting next Monday.

If you'd like to see a detailed list of the cuts and the number of teacher layoffs, go to our homepage and click on ‘Links mentioned'.

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