Last mission to repair the Hubble telescope Hubble space telescope discoveries have enriched our understanding of the cosmos. In this special report, you will see facts about the Hubble space telescope, discoveries it has made and what the last mission's goals are.
For their own good
Fifty years ago, they were screwed-up kids sent to the Florida School for Boys to be straightened out. But now they are screwed-up men, scarred by the whippings they endured. Read the story and see a video and portrait gallery.
Fill out this form to email this article to a friend
Schools budget looks grim
If the funding cut is 4 percent as predicted, the schools deficit could be $2-million.
By JEFFREY S. SOLOCHEK
Published July 12, 2007
» Fast Facts
By the numbers
65,195 – projected student enrollment, up 1,219 from 2006-07.
$4,163 – projected base student allocation.
$7.372 – projected local tax rate per $1,000 of assessed value, down $0.037.
$499-million – about the projected total funding, up $39,907,339.
$12-million – about the amount projected in state funding that is being cut. A 4 percent drop.
Source: Pasco County school system
The money for construction and other capital projects is distinct from the operating budget. Pasco school officials expect to collect $148-million for that account. Major proposed expenditures include:
• High School EEE, northwest Pasco, $41.4-million
• Major priority projects at existing schools, $24-million
• Debt service, $20.5-million
• Elementary R, Connerton, $18.6-million
• Elementary V, Watergrass, $18.1-million
• Sales tax bond payments, $8.6-million
• New administration and telecommunications buildings, $10-million
• Classroom additions at Zephyrhills High, Richey Elementary and San Antonio Elementary, $6.6-million
• Sanders Elementary improvements, $5-million
• New administration computer system, $5-million
LAND O'LAKES – First the good news: Pasco County property owners likely will see a slight decrease in their school district tax rate when the bill comes in November.
Now the bad news: Just about everything else in the district's financial picture, thanks to the looming loss of $12-million in state funding for the year.
If that 4 percent cut comes to pass in a September special legislative session as expected, the district could face some tough choices that no one wants to make. Like canceling scheduled employee raises based on years of service, and not adding more money to the pay schedule. Or scaling back programs.
"The last thing that we would cut would be anything that affects the classroom," School Board chairwoman Marge Whaley said Tuesday during a budget workshop.
But with revenue statewide projected to come in more than $1-billion below original estimates, school districts must begin looking at ways to make ends meet with less. What makes it hard is that so much of a school district's money is spoken for through things beyond a local board's control.
Of an expected $499-million total operating budget, Pasco chief financial officer Olga Swinson figured that the board would have flexibility with just $19-million after accounting for set items such as existing salaries, transportation and classroom materials.
Toss in the added costs for another 1,200 new students, increased insurance premiums, higher fuel prices and utilities for five new schools, and Swinson put the amount closer to $10-million left - and that's before calculating salary step increases another $7-million and contract raises (in negotiations).
Then there's the pesky issue of the county storm water runoff fee, which is brewing in commission chambers.
The county wants to charge the school district, as other landowners, to help cover federal clean water requirements, which could reach into the hundreds of thousands of dollars.
District officials plan to oppose the fee, saying the schools are infrastructure - not development - and should be exempt.
Put all that together, then take away $12-million in state funding, and, well, you get the picture.
"If Olga is correct with the 4 percent, the $10-million becomes a negative $2-million," board member Allen Altman said.
"Is this a dream or a nightmare?"
Already, superintendent Heather Fiorentino has frozen all vacant positions, making exceptions case-by-case for essential jobs.
She also has held back on filling all teaching jobs until it's certain that actual students show up to make enrollment projections real.
And she has her staff reviewing all line items for possible additional reductions.
Fiorentino, who has worked with her staff for weeks on a budget proposal, had hoped for some board direction Wednesday. "But now we aren't sure where we are," she said afterward.
She remained uncertain whether "categorical" funds - items that have specific purposes rather than general operations, such as supplemental tutoring - would be cut, too.
One area where few predicted cuts was capital projects, such as construction.
Swinson figured the board might have about $148-million in revenue, with about $128-million available for new projects.
Swinson smiled at the board as she told the members this would be their main chance to direct money to specific projects.
Her list of proposals included a new high school for northwest Pasco, new elementary schools in Connerton and Watergrass, a complete overhaul or rebuilding of Sanders Elementary, and new buildings for the district administration and telecommunications departments.
Board members did not question any of the priorities.
Fiorentino and Swinson said they hoped to have more details about the budget picture for the board by its July 24 meeting.
The state is scheduled to have its next revenue estimating conference on Aug. 1.