Duval County Public Schools enters 2017-2018 school year $12 million short

The School District says it has plans to make up the money for next year

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Duval County Public Schools (DCPS) has confirmed it is going into this next school year with $12 million less than expected. However, it says it has a plan to cover the money lost.

The DCPS school board met on Monday to decide how to move tackle the unexpected shortfall.

School board member Scott Shine told First Coast News the problem didn't materialize until two weeks ago at the end of June.

"This year was a problem year," Shine said. "We didn’t know until the books were being closed out that we had used that money, so we had the money to cover that, but it was money expected to roll into this upcoming school year, and that put us in a cram."

He said Superintendent Dr. Patricia WIllis presented them with a plan to cover the $12 million loss. That plan includes:

  • Using $9.67 Million from reserves
  • Taking advantage of $1.3 million from cuts to district departments
  • Using a combined $2.57 million from Title I & Title II funding
  • Using $105,000 from general district funds

Shine said there are factors that are making the situation worse, like the fact that more money is now being allotted to charter schools. He said that money could help fix another issue, such as the district's $150 million maintenance bill. 

"You know that money is sitting on the shelf waiting for an emergency and you know I think this is an emergency," Shine said.

He said it is putting some initiatives, programs and positions at stake.

Because of that, some non-profit funders are threatening to pull their support like The Quality Education for All Fund (QEA) and Teachers for America and Cities and Schools. 

In a letter to DCPS, QEA wrote in part: "If it’s not important enough to the district to fund, then the private community will rightfully question why private money should be allocated.”

"We asked the philanthropic community to come in and help us, so QEA, teacher for America, city and schools, they are all programs we worked with the community to bring here but now there is the problem of whether we can fund these programs like we have in the past," Shine said.

Shine said he hopes the district can get back on their feet after this year.

He has made a suggestion that the district hire more of their own auditors to have better financial accountability throughout the year. He believes financial accountability is at the root of the problem because if they had caught it sooner, he believes they could have prevented the deficit from mounting. 

 

© 2017 WTLV-TV


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