Public schools superintendent Tom Luna outlined cuts he said could shore up the public schools budget that is facing a $129 million shortfall in the next budget, according to the Legislature's budget staff.
"I will not sugarcoat this," Luna told lawmakers on the Joint Finance-Appropriations Committee (JFAC) Thursday. "These cuts will be painful, and done wrong, will do significant damage to student achievement."
Luna outlined six targeted reductions that could save $25.2 million in the next school budget.
-Freeze experience movement on salary funding for a second year. $6.1 million
-Eliminate the Early Retirement Incentive Program. $2 million.
-Eliminate field trips transportation reimbursement. $1.4 million.
-Reduce the allocation to teachers for classroom supplies and materials from $300 a year to $200 a year. $1.6 million.
-Eliminate the 99 percent Average Daily Attendance protection. $5 million.
-Combine funding for technology and textbooks purchases into one line item and reducing it to $6 million. $9.1 million.
Luna also suggested tapping three reserve funds to add another $58.3 million to the schools budget. These transfers are:
-An additional one-time distribution of $52.8 million from the Public Schools Earnings Reserve Fund, which is controlled by the Land Board.
-$3.3 million from the Driver's Training Fund.
-$2.2 million from the Safe & Drug Free School Fund.
If Luna's added revenues and reductions are approved, there would still be a gap of more than $45 million. “The most prudent approach is to take any remaining shortfall into an across the board line-item reduction,” Luna told lawmakers. He said that would be a 3.7 percent reduction to areas like transportation, teacher salaries, discretionary funds, and other spending categories. “I had hoped that our state revenue would have turned around," Luna said. "Unfortunately that is not the case.”
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