1. If I look at the
budget for the past few years, it looks like salaries have increased across the
board significantly already. How can you justify asking for a millage increase
for salaries when the salary line item keeps increasing year after year?
salary portion of the budget is based on two factors:
- First, that line item is impacted simply by the number of people
employed. If BDS hires more people, they will automatically generate a
higher number from year to year. Secondly, the individual salaries of
those people will also generate a higher number even if the number of
those employed remains constant.
This line item increased dramatically due to the federal RESTART
grant that the district received as a result of Hurricane Michael. This grant was received in January of
2020 and was not initially budgeted in the 2019-2020 fiscal year as it was
not known that we would be receiving it.
The amount budgeted for RESTART for 2020-2021 fiscal year was $27.5
million, with $17.3 million of that in salaries. Student support services increased the
most from RESTART due to the large allocation for mental health
professionals and services. This
would represent a change due to the number of employees within the
pool. Additionally, raises in the
amount of $3.4 million (approximately
a 3 percent raise for each employee) were budgeted for all employees
in the 2020-2021 fiscal year. So,
the number of employees overall grew and the amount of the salaries as a
whole went up three percent which will result in an overall increase in
this line item..
- Additionally, the Instructional
Salary Budget line item includes not only teachers but all personnel whose
primary job includes activities dealing directly with the teaching of
students. Many of our
paraprofessionals are included in this function. To indicate that these employees
received a lower dollar raise due to a lower percentage increase is
misleading. As mentioned above the
primary reason for the overall increase in salaries was NOT due to
individuals receiving raises, it was the direct result of Hurricane
Michael related federal and state grants that provided funds for
additional employees desperately needed to provide support for the
students in our district. Secondly,
the instructional function makes up approximately 70 percent of all
district salaries. Any percent
change in this function results in a larger dollar amount proportionally
than it does with any other function.
2. How can you
justify an ever-increasing budget with a declining student population?
budgeted total expenditures for ALL funds since 2016 are as follows:
- $318.6 million
- $334.5 million
- $345.6 million
- $398.4 million
- $480.4 million
The term “all funds” includes general fund, special revenue fund, federal and state grants including those directly related to Hurricane Michael, food service fund, debt service fund, capital projects fund, enterprise fund, and internal service fund. An increase in capital funds was the primary reason for the changes between years 2016-2017 and 2018-2019. An increase of $53 million in the general fund due to Hurricane Michael is driving the change for 2019-2020. Hurricane Michael IS included in the general fund contrary to what some may have heard. An increase of $77 million in capital funds is the driver for the change in 2020-2021. This change is due to borrowing funds to build a new school.
3. The LCI millage went up from 1.34 to 1.5 and
is up from 1.2 in 2016. When voters passed the half-cent sales tax it was said
that would prevent the board from raising LCI. What happened?
the board at the time stated at the time that they hoped the half-cent sales
tax would enable them to keep the millage the same or lower. In fact, the LCI
millage was reduced from its all-time high of 2.0 in 2003-2006 and has remained
as low as possible ever since. The LCI tax was increased in the 2020-2021
fiscal year for several reasons, the most compelling one being the
unprecedented destruction wrought by Hurricane Michael.
FEMA is a
reimbursement program. We have to spend
the funds first in order to receive any funds back. We sometimes use LCI funds to facilitate this
process. FEMA reimbursements have been
notoriously slow and LCI funds are being used to repair facilities that would
otherwise sit untouched until FEMA decides to reimburse us. For reference, only 7 districts out of the 67
levy a millage lower than the 1.50 mills.
4. Since the county’s tax base has grown by about 10 percent and is projected to continue that rate of growth, why can’t you just fund improvements to salaries with that money?
understand funding for Florida school districts, one needs to have a basic
understanding of the Florida Education Finance Program (FEFP). The FEFP was established in 1973 as a policy
to equalize school funding and guarantee each student in the Florida public
education system the availability of programs and services appropriate to his
or her educational needs. This means
that regardless of geographical differences or local economic factors, all
students within the state of Florida receive an equalized amount of
funding. Also, the FEFP is the primary
mechanism for funding the operating costs of Florida school districts.
recognizes varying local property tax bases, varying educational program costs,
and varying costs of living. The FEFP
has a local support portion and a state support portion. Both of these portions together make up the
total of the FEFP.
support portion is based on the Required Local Effort millage which comes from
property taxes. This millage is set by
the state and all schools districts are required to levy their given millage. This millage makes up 62 percent of our district’s current total millage levy (3.720 mills of the 5.968 mills) Districts that are “property rich” receive more local support and less state support. And the opposite is true for those districts that have less of a tax base. In other words, school districts do not benefit from Required Local Effort due to a higher tax base because the state will adjust their amount of support to offset any increases.
A change in tax base will only affect operating discretionary millage and local capital improvement millage. Bay County’s tax base increased 9.53 percent from 2019-2020 to 2020-2021 ($17.2 billion to $18.8 billion). The district received $3.2 million more in tax revenue from 2019-2020 to 2020-2021 from these two levies due to the increase in tax base. At the same
time, however, insurance and retirement costs have increased significantly as
well with little to no accommodation for that in state funding.
5. Why wasn’t $23 million in budgeted salary increases enough to give raises to all the teachers?
Increases in the salaried objects can be due to increases in individual salaries or an increase in the number of employees included in that object. The latter was the primary reason for the increase in the 2020-2021 fiscal year budget due to RESTART. Also, “teachers” did NOT receive the lowest amount of any increase that was given. Using percentages only in this statement gives a misleading impression. In fact, of the $3.4 million raise (approximately 3 percent) that was budgeted, the instructional group was budgeted at $2.8 million or 83 percent of the total raise amount.
6. The last line of the wording on the millage makes it look like this money can be spent on anything. Why does it say: “And fund other operations that preserve school program.”?
This sentence was added to the referendum for a few reasons. One is that charter schools will receive their proportionate share of this tax and the district cannot limit these schools to what programs they will fund. Secondly, as we have all seen in the last few years, unexpected things can and do happen. The Superintendent and members of the Bay District School Board have clearly stated that the district will spend this funding on pay raises, early education, mental health, and safety. Additionally, a Citizen’s Oversight Committee (similar to the one in place for the half-cent sales tax) will be formed to oversee the expenditures.
7. It looks like Bay District Schools spends
way more per student than other counties. Why is this?
the 2018-2019 current expenditures report from DOE is the most recent data
available but it does not include capital outlay FUND or debt service
FUND. It DOES include Hurricane Michael
expenses. The current expenditures used
in this report is $287.7 million. Hurricane Michael expenses for 2018-2019 fiscal year was $65.8
million. After removing those expenses
from the total, the district has $221.9 million of expenditures. Based on an
Unweighted Full Time Equivalent of 25,747.11, this equates to $8,620 per
UWFTE. This is comparable to our per
UWFTE amounts for the prior 3 years.
Below are the numbers for three counties for the 2015-2016 fiscal year
through 2017-2018 fiscal year.
2015-2016 school year: Bay -
$8,387, Okaloosa - $8,788, Santa Rosa - $8,240
2016-2017 school year: Bay -
$8,445, Okaloosa - $8,883, Santa Rosa - $8,109
2017-2018 school year: Bay -
$8,749, Okaloosa - $8,881, Santa Rosa - $8,572
reality is, school districts in Florida are funded the same. We are all more similar than we are different
in terms of revenue and expenses.
8. Why does the data seem to indicate that BDS
spends way more than surrounding counties per ESE student? From the general
fund expenditures (which excludes capital expenses and Hurricane repairs) it
looks like BDS spent $9116 per basic and ESL student, Santa Rosa spent $6270
per student, and the state average was $6902 per student. For Exceptional Education students, the state
average was $11,571 per student, BDS average was $16024 per student, and Santa
Rosa was $12,396 per student. Why is this?
analogy to explain this situation can probably be found in the medical field.
Three patients can be admitted to the hospital with the same basic issue and
can have vastly different outcomes, experiences and final bills because of
underlying conditions, overall health and other complicating factors.
is true when looking at ESE students. Students can be considered ESE because
they need something as simple as extended time on testing but their needs could
be as complicated as the full-time assistance of a one-on-one paraprofessional,
a bus aide or even a full-time nurse.
actually uses a matrix of five levels to identify these needs, with level 1
representing the lowest level of service and level 5 representing the highest
level of service. These levels are assigned different cost factors that are
commensurate with the additional costs associated with these services,
increasing with each level. The following are examples of students in each
= Level 1 indicates that the student requires no services or
assistance beyond those that are normally available to all students. For
example, students identified as gifted, whose needs are being met through
programs such as international baccalaureate, advanced placement or dual
enrollment, fall under level 1.
= Level 2 indicates the student is receiving assistance on a
periodic basis or receives minor supports, assistance or services. For example,
the student may require presentation, response, scheduling or setting
accommodations; the use of an electronic device to record lectures; or need
= Level 3 indicates the student is receiving accommodations
to the learning environment that are more complex or is receiving services on a
more frequent schedule. For example, the student may require weekly assessment
of behavior as part of a behavior intervention plan. The term collaboration,
used consistently at Level 3, refers to a joint effort among teachers, family,
agencies and other providers, and involves cooperative, proactive work on the
part of all participants.
= Level 4 indicates that for the majority of learning
activities, the student is receiving specialized approaches, assistance or
equipment, or is receiving more extensive modifications to the learning
environment. Services received on a daily basis are generally included at this
level. For example, the student may require supervision during the majority of
activities for physical safety or assistance with activities of daily living
that require frequent assistance from a staff member.
= Level 5 indicates that the student is receiving continuous
and intense (one-on-one or very small group) assistance, multiple services or
substantial modifications for the majority of learning activities. For example,
the student may receive a combination of services, such as suctioning and the
delivery of medications that necessitates continuous monitoring and assistance.
1-3 are considered Basic Education with each UFTE weighted the same as a
regular UFTE as well as earning the Guaranteed ESE Allocation (separately).
Most students within this category are level 1 and earned the following ESE
Guarantee per UFTE:
= PK-3: $973
= 4-8: $1,091
= 9-12: $777
4-5 earned the following per UFTE:
= Level 4: $14,718
= Level 5: $22,946
It is correct that both Okaloosa and Santa Rosa counties
had more Basic ESE students than Bay District Schools in the 2018-2019 school
year. However, Bay District Schools had considerably more level 4 and level 5
UFTE in the 2018-2019 school year:
So, if you look at that
chart, Bay District Schools has more than twice the number of Level 5 students in either
Okaloosa or Santa Rosa and, actually, has more than twice as many Level 5
students as those counties combined. If you consider the huge
disparity in the number of Level 4 and Level 5 students between BDS and the
other two counties you can understand why the BDS budget is so much higher.
as previously stated, Hurricane Michael revenues and expenditures are included
in the General Fund. This will result in skewed, incomparable data for the
2018-2019 school year until all related expenditures are complete.