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Parkland Administrators Agree To Pay Freeze For Next School Year

Parkland School Board unanimously approved a $138 million proposed budget for the upcoming school year.

Parkland School District administrators have agreed to a pay freeze for the 2011-2012 school year, saving the district $250,000 and helping to make possible a balanced budget.

The pay freeze was announced during the school board meeting Tuesday night, prior to the board unanimously approving a $138 million proposed budget for 2011-2012.

“We appreciate the willingness of our administrators to be team players at this challenging time,” said Superintendent Louise Donohue.

Also, according to a statement issued by the school district, the teachers’ contract expires in 2012 and the support contract is due to expire in 2013. The Parkland Education Association anticipates a large number of retirements in 2012 and “will focus on a pay freeze for the 2012-2013 year, the first year of a new contract,” according to the statement.

Board member David Kennedy thanked the administrators for agreeing to a pay freeze, saying, “I truly think that’s a step in the right direction.” Kennedy previously had called for administrators to agree to a pay freeze.

However, Kennedy criticized teachers for not making any concessions as well for the upcoming school year. “It’s absolutely greed on their part,” Kennedy said.

The school board previously passed a $140 million preliminary budget in February. The proposed budget of $138 million was made possible, school officials said, because of several factors, including the $250,000 in administrative salary increases due to the wage freeze.

Also, 60 full-time and part-time positions will be eliminated in the next school year for a savings of about $2.6 million. Many of the positions will be eliminated through retirements and resignations.

School officials also pointed to savings in several other areas, including: $400,000 in petroleum savings over several years after Parkland partnered with the Whitehall-Coplay School District; a $914,400 reduction in electric utility costs in 2010 and 2011 due to purchasing electricity with the same partnership; and a 12 percent reduction in supply and textbook orders this school year for $360,000 in savings in the science curriculum.

“These are very difficult budgetary times,” Donohue said. However, she said, there will be no negative impact on education in the Parkland School District.

Board member Robert Cohen said he disagrees. “This budget will impact our students,” Cohen said. “We stand at a juncture … Over the long run, we will be compromising what we are offering students in our community.”

The proposed $138 million budget represents an increase of 1.46 mills from the current rate of 38.27 mills to 39.73 mills. At the proposed rate of 39.73 mills, the average residential property owner would pay $112 more for the year, based on the average Parkland residential property assessment of $76,814.

However, John Vignone, director of business administration, said there will be a projected property tax reduction from gaming monies of about $105 per household to offset much of the projected tax increase.

The school board has struggled with millions of dollars in lost revenue, from lower interest earnings, reduced property assessments and lost federal subsidies.

The district has lost $3 million in tax revenue during the past two years from lower assessments, primarily on commercial and industrial properties in Upper Macungie, South Whitehall and North Whitehall townships.

In addition, Vignone has projected another $1 million loss in tax revenue from lowered assessments in the next school year.

Further, Gov. Tom Corbett’s proposed state budget includes deep and unexpected cuts in charter school and Social Security reimbursements. Parkland’s loss in these two areas alone totals $1 million.

Board member Roberta Marcus said the loss of state funding is “just short of a full frontal attack” on public education in Pennsylvania.

The Parkland School Board will adopt its final budget in June.

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