District faces difficult budget season

Published: Thursday, April 4, 2013 at 09:42 AM.

When he sat on the Gulf County School Board, the late Oscar Redd used to say the school budget looked like a Cadillac in Tallahassee and resembled a Schwinn bicycle by the time the folks in Gulf County saw it.

This year appears to more of the same.

While the district will realize additional funding from the state under the Florida Education Finance Program (FEFP) and local voters gave the district four more years of an additional operating millage, the district still faces a difficult road in crafting the coming year’s budget.

Superintendent of Schools Jim Norton said on Tuesday that where once the prediction was the district would face as much as a $600,000 shortfall even with the additional mill approved by voters, that number now represents the bottom floor on potential cuts.

“Even with the one mill we are still going to have a budget shortfall,” Norton told board members. “We are still projecting at least a $600,000 shortfall for next year. I previously said it could be as much as $600,000 – now it appears the shortfall will be at least $600,000.”

In addition, the Congressional budget tug of war that resulted in sequestration of some federal funds will hit the district in funding for Title I, Title II and Title VI – generally addressing the needs of the poorest and neediest children – as well as funding that support vocational programs.

“We are looking at a 9 percent cut in federal funding,” said Sara Joe Wooten, assistant superintendent for instruction. “That is what they are planning on, at a minimum.”

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