Bethel Park School District expected to approve preliminary budget

Published Jan 23, 2014 at 10:22 am (Updated Jan 29, 2014 at 10:33 am)

Bethel Park School Board members are expected to approve a proposed preliminary budget for the 2014-2015 school year at a meeting scheduled for Jan .28.

The proposed preliminary budget, with expenditures of $79,843,157, is a starting point for the budget process, explained board President Donna Cook.

State Act 1 requires that school districts make a 2014-15 proposed preliminary budget available for public inspection by Jan. 30 in order to seek exceptions to be able to raise taxes above the index, or adopt a resolution by that time indicating they will not raise the rate of any tax by more than its index.

Once the proposed preliminary budget is passed, the district can decide if it will ask the state for exceptions, Cook said.

Pennsylvania school boards – except in the cities of Philadelphia, Pittsburgh and Scranton – operate on a fiscal-year schedule that begins July 1. They have to pass their final budgets and tax resolutions by June 30 for the upcoming school year.

The proposed preliminary budget for the Bethel Park School District will be available for review beginning Jan. 29.

School directors are expected to make an adjustment to the 2013-2014 school calendar, which had originally scheduled Jan. 7 as a school day. Because of the weather, that date was used as a snow day. Feb. 17, which was supposed to be a school holiday, will now be a school day to make up for that snow day.

The board is also expected to approve the calendar for the 2014-2015 school year.

Administrators are recommending that the board reinstate the Homework Overtime Team (HOTT) bus for the remainder of the school year. The bus, which district officials said costs approximately $3,500 to operate, was discontinued as a cost saving measure before the 2011-2012 school year.

The HOTT program, which has operated for more than 20 years at Independence Middle School, provides after-school homework help to students four days a week. The bus provided transportation home afterward.

Vicki Flotta, district director of communications, said that in 2010-2011, there were 40 students enrolled in the HOTT Program.

Beginning with the 2011-2012 school year, the district saw a decrease in participation since the after school bus run was eliminated, dropping participation to 22 students that year, said Flotta. The number of participants were 17 in 2012-2013 and 18 in 2013-2014.

“We know from speaking with students that transportation is a factor in their nonparticipation and believe we would increase participation by at least 10 students by reinstating the bus,” Flotta said.

Board members said that although they are reluctant to reinstate the transportation because of the expense, they believe HOTT is a very worthwhile program and that having more student participation would be worth the expense.

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