Brevard Public Schools Facing $13 Million Deficit, 2020-21 District Budget Proposes Reductions
By Space Coast Daily // June 17, 2020
ABOVE VIDEO: Brevard Public Schools Superintendent Mark Mullins today presented the district budget for fiscal year 2020–21 to the school board.
BREVARD COUNTY • VIERA, FLORIDA – Brevard Public Schools Superintendent Mark Mullins today presented the district budget for fiscal year 2020–21 to the school board.
During the presentation, he and BPS Chief Financial Officer Cindy Lesinski outlined a proposal which would move to close the gap on a nearly $13 million deficit caused by a significant Florida retirement adjustment required by the state, declining enrollment, and rising healthcare costs.
The district entered FY 2021 with a $1.2 million deficit caused by reduced per student funding due to charter school growth and a state-mandated increase in contributions to Florida’s pension fund.
Additional anticipated costs include $10.5 million to cover the district’s health insurance shortfall and $2.4 million for security and staffing for a new elementary school.
Dr. Mullins identified spending cuts totaling nearly $10 million to include ending regional busing to student choice schools and programs, department budget reductions, and the elimination of 136 positions for district managers, tech associates, and school media assistants.
ABOVE VIDEO: Dr. Mark Mullins gives parents and students an update.
The district will use non-recurring funds to preserve the media assistants’ jobs through the coming school year, giving those employees time to transition to other jobs within BPS wherever possible.
“This is no light decision,” Mullins told the school board.
“We can’t continue to cut personnel and programs without impacting the level of service our kids and families deserve, but when we’re faced with these types of state funding challenges and growing expenses, we have to make difficult choices. This is not where we projected to see ourselves 10 or 12 months ago.”
District 4 board representative Matt Susin supported the Superintendent’s recommendation to eliminate choice busing not only out of financial need but an operational necessity; recognizing the current workforce challenge the district faces with busing, along with the reality that some older bus drivers may not feel comfortable returning in the new school year.
“The issue is deeper than BPS trying to save $1 million. This is a serious workforce issue,” said Susin.
“Last year, because of the driver shortage we had buses arriving late to school and hitting maximum limits as they consolidated routes every day. Now, due to COVID-related concerns, some of our older drivers are reconsidering employment for the re-opening of school, adding to this already mounting challenge.”
School Board Chair Misty Belford said, “We’ve cut more than $27 million from the budget in the last five years without a lot of impact being felt. I would be lying if I said this decision doesn’t pain me, but we’re just at a point where there’s not much left to cut.”
With the start of a new fiscal year fast approaching on July 1, Florida school districts are still awaiting Governor Ron DeSantis’ decision on whether to sign the state education budget passed by the Florida Legislature in March, as they plan for additional economic impacts associated with COVID-19.
As BPS prepares for the coming school year, the district is preparing for the added challenges of closing achievement gaps and maintaining student progress, along with increased economic pressures due to a drop in sales tax revenue and further enrollment uncertainties as a result of COVID-19.
The School Board will hold the first of two public hearings on a formally proposed budget on July 30, with a second and final public hearing Sept. 10. The full budget presentations can be viewed at the following links:
BPS Financial Condition Report:
BPS Budget Update presentation:
Board member comments and questions:
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