Lake County school board discussing big budget changes

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TAVARES, Fla. - The Lake County School Board is making big changes to its budget, in an attempt to improve school grades.

Lake County School Superintendent Susan Moxley started the Monday afternoon school board meeting off with the bad news.

"Our budget is exceptionally lean.  It is an exceptionally meager, lean budget. I'm not going to apologize for saying that," Moxley said.

Over the next three years the board plans to shift funding within its budget to improve student performance.  The superintendent wants to move $10 million next year alone but there may have to be winners and losers -- it looks like some administrators won't get raises.

"But basically, what this says is, they're in a frozen standpoint for the next two years," said Moxley.

The cost cutting changes are the result of a $1 million study funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, to fix a school system that has fallen from an "A" rating to a "C" in recent years. 

Officials want to improve programs for children who need to learn English and boost funding to schools that are falling behind.   But to do that, cuts are needed in other areas, including lawn maintenance. That money would be spent in classrooms, especially at struggling schools.  

Another target for cost cutting is expected to upset some parents.

"We are not recommending reducing athletic programs for students," said Moxley.

But transportation to and from games is on the block, and Moxley suggested that Lake County teams stay inside the county on game nights, since it costs too much to cross the border.

"Lake County was extremely higher than our surrounding districts. So this is proposing that we reduce that by 25 percent," said Moxley.

"What's step one? What do we need to go to step two? I think with the work that has been done we need to do this," said school board member Rosanne Brandeburg.