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Gainesville school board OKs 2010 budget that cuts pay

POSTED: June 24, 2009 12:10 a.m.

The Gainesville school board approved a $53.4 million budget Tuesday that includes pay cuts for all system employees including the superintendent, board members, teachers and bus drivers.

In a 4-0 vote with school board Chairman David Syfan absent, the board approved a final budget for fiscal year 2010, which begins July 1.

All teachers, school counselors and media specialists will have their salary reduced by $75 per month or $900 per year, said Gainesville schools Superintendent Merrianne Dyer.

Classified staff, such as bus drivers, will receive a $10 per month pay cut — $100 annually.

Board members’ $5,820 annual salaries will be reduced 10 percent and Dyer’s salary will be reduced 2 percent.

Pay cuts will be doled out to system workers starting July 1 and will last until June 30, 2010. The pay cuts will save Gainesville schools $449,188, according to the budget.

Board member Maria Calkins said she believes the board will restore salaries as soon as it’s fiscally prudent.

The final budget also includes $2,352,430 to hire more than 43 teachers for the upcoming school year.

Dyer said the system eliminated 61 teaching positions in the 2008-09 school year because it anticipated diminishing state and local education funding.

"This budget reflects a comfortable class size," Dyer said. "There are no reductions in (Advanced Placement) courses at the high school."

Dyer said to maintain class sizes that are only one or two students larger than last year, the system must hire about 43 additional teachers.

The approved budget also includes cuts to the system’s dental insurance program. The system will save $138,000 this upcoming year by discontinuing payment of the employer portion of the dental program in November.

The board is set to apply at least $1.8 million to the system’s $5.4 million deficit by June 30.

The final budget for the upcoming fiscal year allows the system to apply about $954,000 to an estimated fiscal year 2010 deficit of $3.6 million by June 30, 2010.

Gainesville schools chief financial officer Janet Allison said she expects that by June 30, 2010, the school system will have a deficit of $2,693,752. The board has said it hopes to pay off its deficit by June 2013.

All board members, including Syfan, have said they are comfortable with the final budget after four months of extensive preparation.

Gainesville school board member Sammy Smith said he feels the system has developed a better accounting process and is making progress.

"Our collective message to the public is, ‘We hear you, we understand you and we’re trying to do our part,’ " he said.

Board member Willie Mitchell said he is glad the system did not have to enact $200 per month pay cuts as the board had anticipated just a month ago.

"They were nowhere near where they started out," he said. "A lot of people would have been hurting. Now it’s in such a way that it’s still noticeable, but less painful."

Board member Kelvin Simmons said the fiscal year 2010 budget was a product of teamwork.

"Nobody likes to take a cut in pay, but if everybody can take a job where we can support our families, we’re ... going to be OK," Simmons said. "We’re all contributing."


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