The good news for the district is that property values have shown an uptick for the first time since 2008-09, and the state and federal revenues have increased.
But theres still a budget gap of $67 million. Property values have not climbed back to their peak pre-recession value, even though the Miami-Dade property appraiser came up with a higher value for the countys tax rolls an extra $20 billion than the states estimate, making the budget gap smaller than first expected.
Whats more, much of the increased state and federal revenue will not fund district programs. Rather, it will replace other revenues, like federal jobs money, that have been spent or it will flow to other programs. About an extra $33 million will flow to charter schools, whose enrollment continues to rise. Another $33.5 million must support the controversial McKay Scholarships, which give money to students with disabilities to attend eligible private schools.
The districts budget and financial directors have proposed setting aside $27 million in a new reserve to guard against any change in the final appraised property value and against any shortfall in collecting the taxes. (Millions in taxes from 2010 are still tied up in the appeals process.)
That planning is critical. Once the school year starts, changes to the budget have tremendous impact to our schools, Marte said. Once our kids are in school, the best thing we can do is minimize change.
United Teachers of Dade President Karen Aronowitz said she supports the tentative budget because it maintains our priority in the classroom and thats where it should be.
Were happy that property values in Miami-Dade are rebounding. It helps us with the types of programs that our children deserve. Now our school system will recover, she said.
In addition, Carvalho plans to create a new enterprise division to bring in new revenue for the district, for example royalties from its sports brands.
Carvalho said he is hunting to hire someone who is business savvy to lead the enterprise division. The Foundation for New Education Initiatives will likely provide initial funding. Carvalho estimates the enterprise division could bring in $4 million in the first year.