With the Pasco County School District facing a minimum $60 million budget shortfall, one school board member wants to explore the idea of cutting the school week down by a day starting next academic year.
“It’s something we have to look at,” said Steve Luikart, after the board’s workshop today. “I don’t wish this (on anyone), but (we have to) protect the classroom.”
Luikart said the idea is meant to see if this would help the district not only save money and teaching positions, but also preserve programs, such as art and music.
The potential savings would come from a reduction in transportation costs, food expenses, utilities and more, he added.
Luikart’s request to school district staff to look into the potential savings such a move would create came during a board workshop today, March 21. That meeting was set to enable the board to further explore the Pasco County Commission’s idea to cut impact fees. These are fees charged to developers to offset the cost of supplying services to new developments. School impact fees are used to help pay for new buildings and expansions.
The district is facing financing cuts on the federal, state and local level. All told, the district is looking at a minimum shortfall of $60 million just in federal and state funding. A reduction or elimination of impact fees would be on top of that.
“This is just one part of the perfect storm,” said Joanne Hurley, the board’s chairwoman.
Luikart, who represents the New Port Richey area, said the district has to consider ways to put students first even as funding is dwindling.
“(We need to) save all the programs we can,” he said.
Staff was directed to look into the suggestion, but the issue was not taken up formally by the board during today’s meeting.