Alachua County school board discusses preliminary budget 

Board Member Sarah Rockwell said ESSER-funded positions should reevaluated before the district funds them from its own budget.
Board Member Sarah Rockwell said ESSER-funded positions should reevaluated before the district funds them from its own budget.
Photo by Glory Reitz

As Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER) grant funding comes to an end this September, members of the School Board of Alachua County (SBAC) questioned the 23 positions poised to move to the district’s general fund during a budget workshop Tuesday. 

Among the 23 positions, 11 are family liaison specialists, a role multiple board members said they want to expand at other schools. Counting salaries and benefits, the positions cost the district about $1.4 million annually. 

Several board members raised concerns about moving that many positions into the general fund without reevaluating whether they need to remain after the federal, COVID-related funding has run out. 

Become A Member

Mainstreet does not have a paywall, but pavement-pounding journalism is not free. Join your neighbors who make this vital work possible.

“I’m not commenting on whether or not [the positions are] necessary,” Board Member Sarah Rockwell said. “I’m just concerned that there are still projected expenses that aren’t included here, and it already looks like our budget is uncomfortably tight.” 

This year’s estimated revenue and expenditures are both up from last year’s, according to numbers presented at the workshop. This year’s projected revenue is $297,200,890, which is about $13.2 million higher than last year’s projected revenue. 

This year’s expenditures are projected to be $297,572,993.42, which is a $4.95 million increase over last year’s projected expenditures. 

The district expects a weighted estimate of 28,121 full-time enrollment students this year, not including scholarships, which Gabrielle Jaremczuk, the district’s incoming chief of finance, told the board is a more accurate representation of what ACPS will have to work with.

“It is important to know that these estimates are preliminary, and some of the information will change in the future as we progress through closing out fiscal year ‘24,” Jaremczuk told the board. 

A “slight increase” in Florida Retirement System (FRS) rates will result in an estimated increase of $960,000. At the same time, Jaremczuk projected a decrease of 111.75 staff positions. 

The state has set aside about $1.98 million in Alachua County’s Base Florida Education Finance Program funding to raise teacher salaries. Without the portion that goes to charter schools, ACPS is left with $1,859,867. 

The transfer from $1.5 millage capital funds into the general fund is projected to increase by $2.15 million this year. The projected budget includes a transfer of about $10.4 million, up from last year’s $8.25 million. 

Board Member Tina Certain said though the increased transfer of funds is “an allowable expense,” it concerns her because plugging budgetary holes that way leaves the district short of funds for its many capital projects, such as improving athletic facilities. 

“I don’t think it’s good practice to make that shift at the levels at which we are, because it leaves fewer dollars for us to have in that capital pool,” Certain said. “It shows that we’re… not contracting our budget to be able to have those precious dollars to spend on true capital projects.” 

The money is budgeted to come from Function 8100, leased portables and the cost of 2024-25 property casualty insurance. 

Rockwell and several other board members said they want to see more family liaison specialists providing outreach and help to students experiencing homelessness at every elementary school.  

Certain said it would cost the district about $400,000 to put a family liaison specialist at every elementary school, and she echoed other board members, saying the money could be found by reducing other positions. 

Board Chair Diyonne McGraw also noted that if Lake Forest Elementary School pulls out of turnaround status, it will not need an external operator, which would save the district about $500,000. 

The tentative budget is set to come before the board to be approved for advertisement on July 24, with a public hearing on Aug. 1 to approve the tentative millage and budget. The board will then hold a public hearing for approval of the final millage and budget on Sept. 11. 

Editor’s Note: this story has been updated to reflect full-time enrollment as an amount of students.

Notify of
1 Comment
Newest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
art guerrilla

is this a current picture ? if so, does she have tuberculosis ? (and if she does, why isn’t shee on a zoom call?)
otherwise, she appears to be a virtue signaller of no depth… THIS public official should be hounded out of office by a discerning media doing its job… she was wrong about everything related to plandemic, and should be disqualified from public office for her life… ALL OF THEM…