After months of budget talks, Parkland School Board Tuesday approved a proposed $137.8 million budget for 2012-2013 that raises taxes 3.67 percent while cutting 60 staff positions.
The budget would increase the millage rate by 1.46 mills to 41.19 mills. That means a homeowner with property assessed at the district average of $76,912 would pay $3,168 in property taxes, or $112 more than this year.
The board approved the proposed budget 7-0; the final budget will be voted on June 19.
Going into Tuesday’s meeting, the district was still looking at a budget gap of $462,097. John Vignone, director of business administration, told board members they could use more of the district’s fund balance to close the gap, while efforts are made to persuade the support staff union to accept a wage freeze for next year.
Otherwise, Parkland is hoping the final state budget might have more funding for public education than what Gov. Tom Corbett proposed and any extra Parkland gets could be used to plug the hole.
The total proposed budget comes to $405,000 less than this year’s, Superintendent Richard Sniscak said, reflecting long negotiations and agonizing choices.
“We’ve done everything we can on the expenditure side,” Sniscak said. Certain programs, such as special education, are costly and mandated by the state but the state doesn’t provide enough funding. “The money doesn’t follow the mandate,” he said.
Like other school districts, Parkland has been struggling with tax and other revenue sources that are either flat or falling, Vignone said.
If the support staff accept a wage freeze for 2012-2013, that could close most of the gap. The administrators took a pay freeze this year and the teachers have agreed to a freeze for 2012-2013. The support staff, which includes cafeteria workers, bus drivers, maintenance workers, teaching assistants and secretaries, received a 4.95 percent raise each of the last four years and they are due for another 4.95 percent raise in 2012-2013.
The staff cuts in the proposed budget include 24 professional employees, three administrative jobs and 33 support staff, which will save the district $3.4 million. About 25 of the positions will be lost through attrition, Vignone said.
Other savings include:
-- $1.3 million in bond refinancing
-- $240,000 in transportation costs from a reduction in elementary school bus runs.
-- $110,000 to athletics, including intramurals
-- 10 percent cut in supplies, districtwide
-- $250,000 less in the budget reserve
-- Use of $3.46 million of the fund balance.
In a prepared statement, Sniscak thanked the teachers union for accepting a pay freeze for next year. Board President Jayne Bartlett said that even with the tax increase, Parkland’s millage rate remains the lowest in Lehigh County when compared to the eight neighboring school districts.