2012 Begins

2012 Begins

It is 2012!  January 1st, for many of us, is a day of reflection and planning.  I know in our home we are thinking of starting back to school this week, planning for upcoming events, planning for spring and summer with hopes of doing something special for my wife and my 20th wedding anniversary this year.

2012 also welcomes many new challenges in education for our students, teachers, classrooms, schools and district.  One of the first things to watch and pay attention to is the Florida Legislative session which begins January 10th, 2012.  Of the many other items to pay attention to is the Redistricting which will affect Citrus County on both a state and federal representative level.  You can learn more about the Florida redistricting by visiting www.floridaredistricting.org.  Another big issue to watch is the State Budget.  While Governor Scott has presented his proposed state budget which includes additional funding to education I have several concerns about his proposal.  The Governor’s projections have an important missing element.  The state is now projecting 300,000 new additional students coming to Florida in 2012-2013 school year. The Governor’s budget does not take that into account. This means that, potentially, whatever the final state educational budget figure is, it will be ultimately divided by the number of students in Florida, creating the new/revised Florida Education Finance Program (FEFP) Calculation.  This means that per student funding which the Governor hopes to increase by $100 plus per student could, after the new student number adjustments, be a reduction in funding instead of an increase.  In addition, the way the Governor is looking to fund the additional $100 per student funding is by cuts in Florida Medicaid.  It needs to be known that cuts in Medicaid have a direct effect on many of our students and services offered to students.  Further, the Governor is suggesting cutting 4,500 state jobs.  While many may believe this is reducing the size of government we have to be aware that cutting ANY jobs at this time only continues to have a negative economic effect on our local communities.  We are between the proverbial “rock and a hard place”.

Locally, the School Board and the Superintendent have been working continually to address the education budget challenges.  The Superintendent put together a District Budget Committee who has been meeting since the fall.  This committee was charged with developing proposed budget reduction ideas for the 2012-2013 districts’ budget that were then presented to the school board.  In addition, Assistant Superintendent Ken Blocker has visited the schools and district offices, presenting a “School Budget: 101” overview on how education is funded and what our funding and expenses have been over the last many years.  This also has been a positive way to talk with staff that are directly affected by changes about the process and answer their questions, concerns, and get their feedback and suggestions.  We all are very interested in hearing anyone’s cost savings thoughts, ideas and suggestions.  Many have been looked into already but please keep sharing with us because it has been staff that has come up with some of the best and largest cost reductions ideas.

This has been a tough time in education but we have and will continue to succeed for our students.  It is challenging for the district, the schools, and educators and staff who are working so hard for those changes to not have a negative effect on our students and their learning environment.  Everyone has been playing a part in our districts success, from our students, parents, volunteers, mentors, PTAs & PTOs, Advisory Councils, educators, administrators, staff and community members are pulling together.  This has been one of the few positive aspects of this educational dilemma, and we need to celebrate it and continue it!

Our students need for each of us, in our individual roles, to be positive and realistic about addressing these challenges.  Our students are our investment and our future.  They deserve our total commitment.

God Bless our district and us all in 2012!

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