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School board to hold first budget hearing Tuesday

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LAND O' LAKES - The Pasco County School Board will hold the first of two public hearings on the school district's proposed fiscal 2014 budget and property tax rate at 6 p.m. Tuesday.The tentative tax rate is $7.36 per $1,000 worth of taxable property, up slightly from the current $7.34.Under the proposal, a resident who owns property with a taxable value of $100,000 would pay $736 in school taxes, compared to $734 under the current tax.School board meetings are held at 7227 Land O' Lakes Blvd. A second and final public hearing on the budget will be in September.As has been the case in recent years, much of the board's budget planning has centered on finding ways to cut costs. When that planning began about five months ago, the district faced a $26 million revenue shortfall. Based on recommendations from Superintendent of Schools Kurt Browning and his staff, the board took numerous cost-saving steps, which included merging some jobs and failing to meet state class-size requirements that limit how many students can be assigned to one teacher in core academic courses.At a school board workshop last week, the board members heard the words it had been waiting to hear. "We have a balanced budget," Olga Swinson, the district's chief finance officer, told them.Browning praised Swinson and other staff members who dived into the numbers to figure out ways to save money. "All in all, it's ended up being positive," he said.

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