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Tentative Duval County school budget passes

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Updated: 7/30/2013 8:47 pm
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- It's budget time for Duval County Schools.  And Tuesday night, after a public hearing, the school board tentatively passed a $1.7 billion budget.

It's the time of year when we're usually talking about cuts that will be made to Duval County's schools.  That's not the case this year.

"No budget cuts this year," said Superintendent Dr. Nikolai Vitti.  "It's really just reinventing our existing budget."

By reinventing the budget, he means starting from zero, wiping the slate clean, then divvying up the $1.7 billion he has.

He said, "I think that was the benefit of coming in as an outsider, that I was tied to nothing.  And I was able to come in and look very objectively at what we were doing and what we weren't doing."

This year's budget brings back magnet school transportation.  It also restores art, music, and physical education teachers.  Those decisions are things School Board Chairman Fel Lee says is important when educating the whole child.

"Instead of going into it with what are we going to cut, the board really went into this budget with [what's] best for children," said Lee.

Cuts are coming from a district level, mostly the administrative offices.

School Board member Jason Fischer said, "We cut 10 percent out of our overhead budget.  And then we redistributed money back into the classrooms."

It's a budget board members say has more pros than cons.  It even lowers the millage rate, or the property tax you pay for public schools. 

A final vote is Sept. 16.  Four of the seven members of the board have to approve the budget for it to pass.

DCPS doesn't have a lot more money to play with this year.

Last year, the total budget was $1.6 billion.  This year, it's $1.7 billion. And to put things into perspective, the budget for the entire City of Jacksonville is $953 million.
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