School Budget's ‘Less Controversial’ Aspects Reviewed
The Upper Dublin School District is still facing a budget deficit; big decisions will likely be made next month.
The Upper Dublin School Board held its first budget-only meeting Monday night, but it looks like significant talks, or action, will happen next month.
Upper Dublin School District Business Administrator Brenda Bray presented the district’s 2013-14 preliminary budget to the board and to the audience. The dry presentation started at 6 p.m. and ended just before 9 p.m.
The school district is facing a budget deficit. Bray’s presentation had a slide that outlined the preliminary budget. The slide showed a total revenue figure of about $84.6 million, and a total expenditure figure of $87.2 million — to close the gap, it assumed the use of about $2.6 million in fund balance, leaving $8,116 in fund balance at the end of June 2014.
But, the revenue figure assumes a 3.04 percent millage increase, and the expenditure figure assumes $2.7 million in budget reductions — which have yet to be made.
The current millage rate is 28.7847. With the proposed tax increase it will be 29.6597. In real terms, a homeowner with a house assessed at $150,000 would pay $4,449 annually, or $131 more than last year. I homeowner with a house assessed at $200,000 would pay $175 more per year.
Where’s that $2.7 million coming from? Well … the school board didn’t figure it out last night.
The presentation focused on, and reviewed, “less controversial” expenditures like: vocational education, adult education, pupil health, business services, maintenance and debt service, according to Bray.
It did not touch on: regular education ($36.8 million), special education ($11.4 million), administrative costs ($3.8 million) and transportation costs ($3.9 million) — all of which comprise about 64 percent of the preliminary budget.
Superintendent Michael Pladus said the meeting on March 11 will be “the next major step forward” in the budget process. But school board member Art Levinowitz said, “I’m not sure why we’re here tonight then. To go through what we’re doing tonight should take 15 minutes or a half hour. What’s the goal of tonight’s meeting? What are we going to get out of it; what will the community get out of it?”
A member of the audience then said, “Three cheers.”
Pladus said that on Monday morning, school officials spent four hours in meetings discussing personnel options; he added that on Tuesday morning, he will meet with the district solicitor regarding demotions. It appears that most of the demotions and furloughs will happen at the high school, but Pladus said it’s a “misconception” that the majority of them will be from the arts departments.
“Because it’s so personnel-laden, it’s not easy to discuss in a public forum,” Pladus said. “On March 11, there will be a much more detailed list of options, getting from $2.7 million to a balanced budget. It’s difficult bringing up demotions and furloughs ...
“The board will be given several conceptual options,” Pladus continued. “It’s awkward and inappropriate to have these discussions in public about who’s being demoted … this meeting is not the proper venue.”
- A work session meeting is scheduled for March 4 at 6 p.m. in the high school Cardinal Room.
- A legislative meeting is scheduled for March 11 at 7 p.m. in the high school cafeteria
- A budget meeting is scheduled for March 18 at 6 p.m. in the high school Cardinal Room.