$3.7 million cut to School District budget spares some programs, cuts others

INDIAN RIVER COUNTY – The Indian River County School Board unanimously approved $3.7 million worth of budget cuts for the upcoming school year.

Those cuts include closing the Simon Mall program for at-risk students and eliminating the first-grade field trip to the Environmental Learning Center. Spared from the budgetary axe are the music and arts teachers and their classes at elementary schools.

School Board member Carol Johnson told the audience Tuesday evening that this is the first year in the five she’s been a member of the board that they have held seven workshops to discuss the budget. Before this year, the most had been four.

Johnson said the number of workshops shows the “dire circumstances we’re in.”

She added the board is fully aware that many of the budget cuts will impact students in their classrooms.

Johnson recommended approving the budget with a couple modifications. She suggested the budget not reduce the School Board’s executive assistant to part-time and not reduce the high schools’ athletic directors to 11-month positions.

Johnson said those two items had been discussed during workshops but no consensus had been reached.

School Board member Karen Disney-Brombach concurred, adding she would like the board to meet again and craft a list of priorities of budget items to be restored if more funding becomes available.

At the top of her list, she said, are reading coaches and assistants to the special education teachers – which were cut from the budget.

“I just don’t want those things to fall to the wayside,” Disney-Brombach said.

The School Board also made the approval of the budget contingent on the organizational chart that will later be approved.

Schools Superintendent Dr. Harry La Cava and incoming Superintendent Dr. Fran Adams have crafted their own charts, both of which could realize more than $240,000 in budget savings.

Though School Board members said they would have preferred to hold off on approving the budget until final financial figures are handed down from the Florida Legislature, Board Chairman Matt McCain said they could not delay.

“We really are at the eleventh hour here,” he said. “We’ve got to have something on the table.”

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