'We have to be fiscally prudent' Volusia Schools superintendent said 284 teachers likely to be displaced in new school year

The displacement is a way to help fill the funding gap created by the school board's use of short-term pandemic relief funding for reoccurring positions.

Volusia County Superintendent Carmen Balgobin. Image screenshot for school board meeting live stream
Volusia County Superintendent Carmen Balgobin. Image screenshot for school board meeting live stream
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After listening to students and parents from across Volusia County respond to the future displacement of 284 teachers, Volusia County Superintendent Carmen Balgobin reminded everyone present that any cuts will be made closer to the new fiscal year.

“We have to be fiscally prudent,” Balgobin said in the April 9 meeting.

Some 284 teachers in Volusia County could be displaced in the upcoming school year after four years of the Volusia School Board using federally-funded coronavirus relief funding for reoccurring costs, like new job positions. 

Cuts will be made at the school and district level, as the school board begins planning for the next school year after exams and closer to the new fiscal year, on June 1, Balgobin said. No decisions can be made until the VCS has a better idea of how many personnel are leaving or retiring, she said.

“It’s fluid, what's taking place," she said. "So the best time to do this is to wait more towards the ending of the [school fiscal year].” 

The federally government passed a coronavirus relief fund in 2020, a subset of which were the Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief funds. Balgobin said when the VSC began receiving the ESSER funds, the board made it clear the funds were not to be used for reoccurring positions. 

Despite board direction, Balgobin said, the funds were used for those positions.

Balgobin was not the superintendent at that time. She joined the school district in May 2022. Afterward, an audit of the budget conducted showed the ESSER funding was being used to bolster the school system's budget, instead of just adding to it. Without the funding, which will expire in September, the VSC was at a $50 million deficit in 2022.

The Daytona Beach News-Journal wrote in March that Volusia County teachers were notified of the upcoming changes, where teachers will be moved to other schools and possibly other subjects to teach. Many students from schools whose choir or other arts programs are either being cut or consolidated showed up at the April 9 meeting in protest. 

School board member Ruben Colón pointed out that many choral programs only have a handful of students across multiple classes while simultaneously, as board member Jamie Haynes said, other schools have not enough teachers for the number of students.

"You don't give a high school that has 1,000 students, the same number of assistant principals as you give a high school with 3,000 students," Haynes said.

Haynes said the ESSER funds were ideally supposed to have been used for additional tutoring opportunities for students. Instead, they were used to hire teachers at a rate that did not follow any formula based on school populations.

"Units were handed out like Santa Claus was handing out presents,” she said. "...You can't say, I want every one of these programs on my campus, if the kids aren't there to support the programs."

Haynes and Balgobin both said there will be cuts at the district level. Not only, Balgobin said, is the Volusia district the second-lowest staffed districts when compared to eight other Florida school districts, there will be additional cuts on top of that.

"In every district that I've worked," she said, "when you're making district cards, it's closer towards the end of the year."


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