Parkland Shrinks Budget Gap, Seeks Wage Freeze
School district found $391,028 more in reductions in athletic and activities budgets, more staff attrition and electricity costs but is asking support staff to accept pay freeze.
At a school board finance committee meeting this morning, John Vignone, director of business administration, told board members that some of the savings were found in reductions to activities and athletic budgets, more staff attrition and electricity costs.
The proposed budget can only include a 1.46 mill increase in property taxes, which would bring the millage rate to 41.19 mills. That’s a 3.67 percent hike. At that rate an average homeowner with property assessed at $76,814 would pay $3,163 in taxes, or $112 more than this year.
Parkland is permitted by the state to raise taxes beyond the Act I allowable rate of increase because of special exceptions granted for special education costs and higher payments to the Public School Employees’ Retirement System (PSERS).
“These are under funded liabilities for the district,” said Superintendent Richard Sniscak.
Sniscak said negotiations with district support staff over the pay freeze request have been amicable. Support staff, which include food service personnel, teachers assistants, bus drivers and maintenance workers, received a 4.95 percent increase each year for the last four years. They are due another 4.95 percent increase for 2012-2013, which is the final year of their five-year contract. Vignone said if they forego that raise it would close most of the remaining $462,097 budget gap.
District teachers accepted a wage freeze for next year. The district administrators took a wage freeze for the current school year. Administrators are not taking a pay freeze in 2012-2013, Sniscak said, adding that the size of the pay hike has not been announced.
The budget gap was much larger in March but the district planned to cut about 63 positions, about half by attrition, and curtail spending on summer school, professional development, textbooks and electricity. It will eliminate the Blake Shuttle program and use some of its money in the budget reserve and fund balance.
“Since then we’ve been working on additional cuts,” Vignone said. “The staff in the schools submitted some recommendations and we’re following some of them.”
The newest reductions would include:
-- $65,000 less for athletics and other activities – including cutting a lacrosse coach at the middle school and saving money on the intramural weight training program.
-- $75,000 in tech services
-- $70,000 in electricity costs
-- $96,000 more in salary and benefit savings from attrition
-- $100,000 in lower budget reserves
Like most school districts, Parkland is struggling with millions of dollars in lost revenue – from lower interest earnings, reduced property assessments and federal subsidies. Meanwhile, it faces rising costs in special education and PSERS and funding from the state has not kept up with the increases.
Parkland must adopt its proposed final budget by May 15 and its final budget by June 19.