• Volusia County schools take on $30M budget deficit


    VOLUSIA COUNTY, Fla. - A budget deficit of $30 million has Volusia County schools off to a rocky start.

    School board members spoke with Eyewitness News about what they're doing to stretch their dollars and still improve several D-rated schools.

    Ida Wright is eight months into her first year on the Volusia County School Board. After being elected, she and her colleagues had to take on a $33.3 million budget deficit.

    "This is where we are, but these are our opportunities: 'Are you willing to come along with us so we can achieve those goals, or are you just going to stay at status quo?'" Wright said.

    It was difficult just to stay status quo this school year, according to officials.

    For the last six years, student enrollment has dropped in Volusia County, reducing funding each time.

    Painful cuts included 5 percent from central office administration, subcontracting custodial and grounds keeping services, energy cost savings and taking $7.8 million from reserves, said officials.

    Officials said teachers got raises only because of state funding.

    "If we didn't get the money from the state it probably would have greatly impacted our budget, with the money from the state; it made our jobs a lot easier," Wright said.

    The district must work to improve seven D-rated elementary and middle schools.

    Officials said those schools are on an improvement plan, but local universities are also getting involved to mentor students.

    Wright is asking parents to do the same.

    "This becomes a community event. Education is a community event. It really takes a village to raise a child," Wright said.

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