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Schools cope with budget cuts

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With public schools now looking at how to make up for their reduced budget from the state, Alachua County Assistant Superintendent for Planning and Budget Keith Birkett says the area should be able to maintain current services.

“We’ve been intentionally building what we call recurring reserves over the past two or three years in anticipation of the shortfalls because we knew we would have to make up for some of the stimulus money that we’ve been receiving,” he says.

He says a voter-approved tax is helping to fund many extracurricular, so they will closely examine other options for making up any budget cuts. Marion County officials see these options as their only way to make up for the crunch. School Board Chair Judy Zanetti says the community can’t afford an additional tax to support the schools, so they will have to look to other measures, like cutting substitute teachers or shortening the school week.

“Staff that is leaving may not be replaced or, in many cases, will not be replaced, but our goal is to not layoff any of our employees. We certainly don’t want to add to our unemployment rolls, and we certainly want to keep people that are doing a good job for us employed,” she says.

She says, while no course of action has been decided on just yet, there will be tough decisions made to cope with the loss of funding. Birkett see the economy beginning to turn and hopes these are not decision the school districts will have to make in the years to come.

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