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Leon School Budget Safe for Now

By Lynn Hatter

Tallahassee, FL – Leon County Public Schools will have the same number of teaching positions for the upcoming school year. Superintendent Jackie Pons is planning a budget that will have as few cuts as possible. But that doesn't mean the district is financially safe. Rising fixed costs and the class size amendment could be a problem for the county's schools very soon.

While the Legislature made a slight increase in school funding, in Leon County, rising retirement and healthcare costs are turning that increase into a $560-thousand shortfall. Then there's the problem with class size. Superintendent Pons says the district thought it would get $4-million dollars to meet the August deadline, but it is only receiving $897-thousand.

"The legislature is acting like superintendents have the dollars to make this final round, and we can prove by what happened with the state board that those dollars were not allocated."

The Board of Education recommended $350-million in class size funds, and lawmakers only appropriated $88-million. At the same time, they also increased the financial penalties on districts that fail to meet the August counts.