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    • For The Record
     
    This is #5 in a series--for the 2013-2014 school year--of news items that I will share with the purpose of providing information about our school district. In addition to e-mailing this message directly to Volusia County Schools staff, there will be a link on the district website (click on “Superintendent” and then “For the Record”) for easy access to these communications as well as being able to provide your suggestions for matters that you wish to have addressed. To make a comment, please click here.
     
    Dear Volusia School District Staff,
     
    As this school year comes to a close, I want to extend a special thanks to each of you for what you do for our students and families. On a positive note, because of your hard work we have experienced many student successes and staff accomplishments throughout the year. However, we must all continue our efforts to support struggling students as we commit to move them forward in academic proficiency.
     
    The school board and management team have begun the challenging process of budget development for the 2014-2015 school year with an initial workshop that was held on May 13th. The most significant challenge that the school board faces each year is to balance the available funds between student instructional and support needs with that of employee compensation.
     
    The availability of funds to balance the budget is an integral part of union negotiations, which got underway last Thursday and Friday for VESA and VTO with AFSCME to meet on Friday, May 30. The school board’s next budget workshop is scheduled for June 24.  Workshops will continue throughout the summer, with tentative adoption in late July and final adoption in September. The management bargaining team has committed to negotiate throughout the summer months.
     
    In large part, due to special state funding last year dedicated to instructional staff salaries, our district was able to provide the largest average percentage raise of 5.26% to its employees when compared to all Florida school districts this year.  While the legislature did not earmark those special state funds for non-instructional employees, our school board worked to give the same 5.26% raise to all employees for this year but could only commit to 3% as recurring into future years.  Even the 3% recurring raise is one of the highest raises given to non-instructional employees by any Florida school district this year. The legislature did not earmark additional state funds for raises in the 2014-2015 year.
        
    Our district has been forced to operate with fewer financial resources from the state during the past several years of the economic downturn. While we have seen some increase from the current year, Volusia is still behind in key funding areas.  Although the legislative session ended on May 2, we are still reviewing the new legislative requirements and analyzing what the new state education budget means for Volusia.
     
    Because state funding is tied to specific purposes, schools boards have little spending flexibility. While our district appreciates that the legislature allocated more for public education this year, it also increased spending mandates for school districts.  One of those areas is pension costs. In addition, a high level of new funds are earmarked for technology, along with other earmarks, leaving limited flexibility for school board decision-making for funding priorities. The extent of how those mandates affect our district operating funds will be a key part of our school board’s budget development process during the summer.       
     
    One state mandate that we hoped would be changed during the 2014 legislative session was the July 1, 2014 deadline for school districts to adopt a performance pay salary schedule for teachers and school-based administrators.  That deadline was not changed.  Our district will build from the recent work of a joint district-VTO committee to develop a performance pay salary schedule during negotiations.  This is a task that is shared by school districts around the state.
     
    There are great things happening in our schools and we look forward to working together for the next school year.  Again, please know that we appreciate all you do and will continue to do everything that we can for our students and our employees that support them.  Enjoy the summer with your families.
     
    Yours in Education,
     
    Margaret A. Smith, D.Ed.
    Superintendent of Schools
    VOLUSIA COUNTY SCHOOL DISTRICT
    386/734-7190, extension 20210
    Fax:  386/734-2842
     
     
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