Upper Dublin School District held another budget meeting to look at updates to the 2012-13 budget. Brenda Bray, Business Administrator, said, “The deficit for next year is decreasing.”
She also told the Board that Moody’s had not downgraded the District’s credit rating, but did note that there are challenges ahead for the district. The District’s fund balances and the Act 1 Index, which makes it difficult for the district to raise taxes and replenish the fund balance, were the two that topped Moody’s list.
However, a bond auction on the District's 2006 series A and AA bonds did better than expected, and the district will save $746,000 overall for the life of the bonds and $492,285 during the 2012-13 school year.
Health Care Consortium
The Bucks-Montgomery Health Care Consortium that the district has joined for the 2012-13 school year will save the district $300,000 in health care costs. That total has been increasing as more and more districts join the consortium.
Early Retirement Incentive
The district has implemented an early retirement incentive this year and expects a $500,000 savings. Two teachers have already expressed that they will retire this spring, and the administration expects that around ten more teachers will opt for the early retirement incentive.
The $500,000 savings, according to Thomas Sigafoos, Director of Human Resources, includes replacing teachers that need replacing and the $25,000 incentive to those teachers that choose to retire early.
The district is hoping that as teachers retire, that they do not have to rehire for those positions, which is an even greater savings for the district.
Howver, the 2012-13 budget as written accounts for the same amount of teachers, aides, librarians and teaching assistants next year at the same salaries as the district has this year.
The budget also doesn’t allow for any new teachers.
Latin and Driver’s Ed
For the two teachers who will be retiring at the end of the year, it still has to be determined by the administration and the board if the positions will be eliminated or filled.
Parents turned out to speak in favor of saving the Sandy Run Latin program, showcasing the near-perfect SAT and PSSA scores students have achieved, and the high commendations on the state Latin exam.
The administration told the board that they are looking to see if there is a way to save Driver’s Ed, as well as all programs, without increasing costs to the district.
Superintendent Michael Pladus said Upper Dublin School District is the last in Montgomery County to offer driver’s education classes in school.
“If there’s a way to maintain Driver’s Ed for one more year, I would love that,” said Pladus.
Any decision to cut the programs would need to be on the Board agenda in May.
Upper Dublin School District will partner with Springfield Township School District for the 2012-13 school year for a transportation consortium. Unlike the 2011-12 school year, the district is going to start small.
According to Bray, Springfield School District is half the size of Upper Dublin in student population, but has twice the fleet. The partnership will be used to share out of district runs.
The rental of the bus garage is also a large cost to the township, said Bray.
Bray told the Board that the administration was able to find $49,387 in savings. Bray asked the Board if they would like the savings to be classified as budgetary reserve or used to aid in balancing the budget.
Joseph Chmielewski said, “Bearing in mind we currently have nothing in budgetary reserves,” and if the money is not used at the end of the year, it will fall back into the fund balance.
Budgetary reserves are monies set aside by school districts for unexpected expenses during the school year.
With still a $465,000 deficit for the 2012-13 school year, and a projected $3 million end of the year balance in the districts fund balance, the administration has proposed a 4.25 percent tax increase.
Chmielewski said there are still funds that are in a “state of flux” for the 2012-13 budget and expects the district will be able to balance the budget with a tax increase.
Art Levinowitz asked the administration to show the differences between the proposed 4.25 percent, and then also 3.75 percent and 3.25 percent tax increases.
“We have an obligation to the community to look at different options,” said Levinowitz.
“If we want to reduce the tax rate we have to do so on something besides we want to do it,” said Chmielewski.
“The administration can and will continue to work at reducing the budget,” said Pladus. “I think we can be successful coming down from were we’re at, at the 4.25 percent.”
Editor's Note: some of the information in this original article may have been incorrect, stating that the Driver's Ed and middle school latin teachers were retiring. Those programs are being considered to not be continued after the 2011-12 school year.