Polk County School officials have a big job ahead. They have to figure out how to chop $16 million to $18 million from their budget to give teachers and other employees the raises they have been promised.
"It is going to be very difficult to come up with that kind of money," said Mark Grey, assistant superintendent for the Polk County School Board. "Sixteen to eighteen million dollars is substantial money and will definitely mean some significant changes in the way we do business."
One issue has been settled. The district is implementing a hiring freeze, starting Friday. Open teaching positions will be filled by lower paid subs.
At least half a dozen other ideas are under consideration for down the road. The one that will save the most money involves high schools. It suggests cutting the number of periods from seven to six a day. Under that plan, less popular classes would be eliminated, and kids would spend more time in their core courses.
Polk is also looking at farming out less work to outside contractors like law firms, maintenance and custodial companies.
Other than the hiring freeze, nothing is etched in stone. School board members are expected to make final decisions by this summer.
FOX 13 / WTVT-TV
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