In an effort to have a more balanced budget, the Lee County School Board has requested monthly updates of how the district's new initiative is going.
Dr. Ami Desamours, budget executive director, said since the school district is working on a zero base budgeting process for fiscal year 2014, they have begun gathering information for the analysis.
The district is anticipating a $25 million deficit next year, which Desamours said would further have them dip into utilizing more of their reserves.
"We are doing ground work on potential budget cutting for next year," she said.
The analysis includes various tiers that personnel of the district fall within.
The first tier includes teachers, principals, school board members and the superintendent.
Desamours said they are spending time looking at exactly what those positions do and what responsibilities the individuals hold.
She said although the district has 4,859 teachers within the schools, they know that all teachers are not necessarily in the classroom at all times. There are teachers that are required to be within the classroom due to state statutes, and there are teachers that are outside of the classroom.
Superintendent Dr. Joseph Burke said he believes that the teachers that are located within the first tier go beyond what the district needs in order to meet the class size requirements because the district has to provide special education services for all students.
Desamours said they are working in conjunction with the principals to make sure the district is really lining up the tiers and understanding how the positions are utilized in schools. She said they are determining what the teachers who are not required to be in the classroom are doing, so they can analyze if there is a different way they can structure their positions within the school.
"We will be breaking down the different tiers in that manner when going forward," she said.
The second tier, which provides support to the classroom, was also discussed during the Tuesday briefing meeting. That tier includes counselors, education paraprofessionals, assistant principals, media specialists, nurses and career/primary specialists.
Burke had some questions about transportation being listed in the second tier.
"At some point we are going to have to make a determination if it is a tier one or tier two function," he said. "Quite frankly, getting the kids to and from school is relatively important to have someone there to teach."
Desamours said they have established a tentative timeline for the zero base budgeting process. She said the department people are currently working on identifying and documenting what function responsibilities individuals are actually performing.
"We are working on completing that information now with a tentative time frame to mid to end November," Desamours said of completion.
The information will then be summarized, so the board can discuss the findings in detail.
Burke told the board that if they were comfortable with the timeline they will proceed on with gathering information.
"We are working on this very, very hard," he said. "Some of these things may move from tier to tier, we may have to break down some things. It is certainly something we are prepared to do."
Board member Thomas Scott said once they sort out the responsibilities and tiers it is going to make it very clear what the functions are. He said they may have to use two or three sub-points for teachers that can be broken out.
"That is what I am looking for," Scott said.
Desamours said that is the idea behind outlining what the tiers are composed of, so a conversation could be had, as well as an understanding of what belonged to where.
A workshop is anticipated to take place in December to allow a discussion in depth about the budget. Desamours said since they are working with a very new process for next year's budget, there needs to be a common understanding of what is taking place.
A strategic process needs to be in place, she said, to hold all the items against to determine if the distinct will continue with the new process or not go in a different direction.
Another briefing about the tiers will be given to the school board at their Nov. 7 meeting.