At its January 28 Board meeting, the Daytona Regional Chamber adopted a position paper calling for the Volusia County School Board to exercise fiscal responsibility and refrain from using reserve funds to balance its operating expense budget. The Chamber also recommends that School District Officials adjust their insurance plans to reflect the present-day market, which commonly includes significant employee participation.
The Chamber has long supported services being streamlined at the district office and that funding the classroom be first priority. At the same time, most of the budget decisions for Volusia County schools are made in Tallahassee (by the Legislature). For example, last year, Volusia County received about $2.5 million less than anticipated which forced District Administrators to use the reserve fund to make ends meet. The Chamber recommends that the District reduce its reliance on that fund over the next two years.
From 2007 to 2013, Volusia County lost approximately 4,600 students and had to cut approximately $80 million (and 1,900 jobs) from its budget. Even with a better economic outlook on the horizon, difficult decisions at the local level still have to be made, i.e. the District can’t use ‘long term 401K money to pay this month’s rent’.
A major budget obstacle for Volusia County School District is the District Cost Differential (DCD) funding formula which the State uses to determine how much each school district receives in K-12 funding (adopted by the legislature in 2004). Since its implementation, the Volusia District has been shortchanged $120 million (an average of $10 million per year).
While Senator Dorothy Hukill and Representative Dwayne Taylor have introduced legislation this Session to modify the DCD funding formula, both the House and Senate bills face an uphill battle.
Chamber Government Relations Vice Chair Len Marinaccio stated, “The School Board must realize that a true structurally balanced budget is one that supports financial sustainability for multiple years into the future. The District should always look at controlling costs and putting emphasis on the classroom when it comes to the budget.”
For more information, contact Jim Cameron, Sr. Vice President of Government Relations at 386.523.3673.