Polk Schools to Lay Off 1,700 Teachers in 2009-10?

No, probably not. But that’s how many the school district would need to lay off to account for the 15 percent budget cut state officials have told Florida schools to expect next year. It comes to $95 million. The Polk district would need to cut 1,700 of its 7,000 teachers to come up with $95 million. It’s more likely that every employee will receive a significant pay cut.

Gov. Charlie Crist’s embrace of the federal stimulus package could reduce that 15 percent cut roughly in half over the next two years – if Crist and other Florida officials can convince the federal government not to enforce rules requiring states receiving stimulus money to be funding schools at 2005-06 levels.

All this was the focus of last night’s school funding meeting at Harrison School of the Arts (where my daugher is a sophomore and I am a parent board member). Mark Grey, the district’s top bean counter, laid out what $95 million translates into for Polk schools.

Here are some highlights from his list:

— 19 percent salary reduction
— a roughly 40-day furlough for all staff
— 1,730 teaching positions

The district would also consider cutting career academies and further reducing support services it has already cut. In the end, the ditstrict will probably use some combination of cuts to make up the deficit. Noting that the district is by far Polk’s largest employer, with 13,000 employees, Grey and Superintendent Gail McKinzie said they want to avoid adding to the county’s economic woes by laying people off. Instead, expect the emphasis to fall on salary cuts.

Let this discussion settle in for those of you think the stimulus package does too much to aid states and not enough to build useless roads. The fact is that public education is, with few exceptions, the prime economic driver of virtually every community. And that doesn’t even consider the actual service it performs.
The purpose of last night’s meetings was to encourage parents to protest these cuts to their state legislators, and I fully endorse that. But beyond that, we all need to ask ourselves what we are willing to pay for. Because there’s no such thing as a free lunch.

Here’s John Chambliss’ account of the meeting in The Ledger.

Cross posted on Metro I4 News

11 thoughts on “Polk Schools to Lay Off 1,700 Teachers in 2009-10?

  1. In a meeting on Feb 16th, a Polk County Schools official offered up up a possible layoff of up to 1,200 teachers.

  2. In a meeting on Feb 16th, a Polk County Schools official offered up up a possible layoff of up to 1,200 teachers.

  3. Pingback: Metro I-4 News News and Info from Lakeland Florida » Blog Archive » Polk Schools to Lay Off 1,700 Teachers in 2009-10?

  4. I was at the recent Polk County Science Fair awards and David Lewis, the Director of Senior Curriculum, announced that the county was looking at cutting programs or people.

    As for the stimulus package, my reading of the situation is that FL will get NONE of the money because we had already reduced our state budget in an attempt to be fiscally responsible.

  5. I was at the recent Polk County Science Fair awards and David Lewis, the Director of Senior Curriculum, announced that the county was looking at cutting programs or people.

    As for the stimulus package, my reading of the situation is that FL will get NONE of the money because we had already reduced our state budget in an attempt to be fiscally responsible.

  6. Jennifer:

    I think, political realities being what they are, that Florida will get the education waiver. Whether we deserve it is another matter. Repatedly cutting property taxes – as we have done in the last couple of years – is not fiscal responsibility if you can’t meet your basic needs.

  7. Jennifer:

    I think, political realities being what they are, that Florida will get the education waiver. Whether we deserve it is another matter. Repatedly cutting property taxes – as we have done in the last couple of years – is not fiscal responsibility if you can’t meet your basic needs.

  8. Billy:

    I know that there is discussion at various levels within the Polk County School board of not renewing contracts for those teachers that do not have teaching certificates and for those teachers that are on annual contract. I don’t know what those figures are but word on the street is those employees are the first that will be looked at if there is a need for streamlining to meet budgetary constraints.

  9. Billy:

    I know that there is discussion at various levels within the Polk County School board of not renewing contracts for those teachers that do not have teaching certificates and for those teachers that are on annual contract. I don’t know what those figures are but word on the street is those employees are the first that will be looked at if there is a need for streamlining to meet budgetary constraints.

  10. These layoffs and cutbacks are an example of the “change” that “main street” can look forward to. “Yes we can” overcome this, but we need real reform. Parents may need to consider paying some tuition for their children’s education to offset the inability of our present system to fully fund government education. In that scenario, parents may become more involved and hold their child’s teacher, their child’s school and the school board bureaucracy more accountable.
    Their is no pot of gold at the end of this rainbow.

  11. These layoffs and cutbacks are an example of the “change” that “main street” can look forward to. “Yes we can” overcome this, but we need real reform. Parents may need to consider paying some tuition for their children’s education to offset the inability of our present system to fully fund government education. In that scenario, parents may become more involved and hold their child’s teacher, their child’s school and the school board bureaucracy more accountable.
    Their is no pot of gold at the end of this rainbow.

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