South Fayette Schools still working on cutting budget

Published Apr 18, 2013 at 3:30 pm (Updated Apr 18, 2013 at 3:30 pm)

At the April 16 South Fayette School Board of Directors’ Committee meeting, district administrators presented an updated look at the district’s proposed budget for the 2013-14 school year. District Director of Finance Brian Tony presented a proposed preliminary budget that included expenditures of $41,875,842.

Superintendent Dr. Bille Rondinelli stated that administrators have cut about $1.9 million out of the initial budget presented earlier this year. “We are still not there yet,” she said. “We’re still working to cut.” Rondinelli said all departments were asked to cut their budgets.

The adjusted base millage number, without any exceptions or taking the budget to the 2.1 percent index, would be 23.9518 mills. The rate had to be adjusted due to the recent county reassessment. Last year’s school millage rate was 28.8241.

Tony said the district was approved for $346,570 in Public School Employees’ Retirement System Contribution (PSERS) exceptions, but was not approved for any special education exceptions. The PSERS amount equals about 0.311 mills.

The maximum millage rate for the 2013-14 school year, taking the exception and going to the 2.1 percent index, which is about 0.5029 mills, currently stands at 24.7657. That number could change as assessment figures are received by the district. Unlike the township, which has a margin of error of five percent during a reassessment year, the school district cannot take any windfall.

Depending on the numbers, as it stands now, the district would have to borrow anywhere from $964,678 to $1,871,499 from its fund balance to balance the budget.

“The numbers will be more accurate as we get closer to June,” said district accountant Maria Brewer-Aguilar. She added that some residents, depending on their assessment number, will see decreases in their taxes, although some will see increases.

Expenditures still in the budget are new staffing for the elementary school and the new intermediate school, totaling about $1.5 million. The staffing includes a new second grade teacher for the elementary school, a library aide in the intermediate school, four full-time and one part-time teacher in the intermediate school, an intermediate school guidance counselor, a receptionist for the intermediate school and five full-time district custodians.

Elementary School Principal Laurie Gray said that a new second grade teacher is needed because of increasing class sizes. She said that if a new teacher is not added, reading class size would be about 27 students per class.

Intermediate School Principal Greg Wensell is requesting new teachers in both fourth and fifth grade, also due to increased class size. He said that if new teachers are not added, then class size could reach nearly 30 students in some cases. He is also requesting a teacher for the STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics) room in the intermediate school.

The board will continue to review the budget at upcoming meetings. A final budget must be passed by the board by the end of June.

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