Parkland School District administrators and school directors met Friday to examine and discuss 2013-14 budget issues.
At the meeting's opening at the district administration building in South Whitehall, Parkland Superintendent Richard Sniscak said, "Challenges continue to impact school funding and that continues to impact Parkland. We've done more with less for three consecutive years."
District officals and school board members were examining every facet of the proposed 2013-14 school budget. The proposed $144 million budget, which is a 4.36 percent increase over 2012-13, carries a 2.73 percent tax increase totaling 13.94 mills, but work continues on it.
Sniscak has predicted that the final budget presented in June will carry a lower tax increase.
"As of today's date, we still have certain unknown factors such as assessment appeals and their assessed value impact and the Commonwealth budget and its effect on the Parkland budget."
Salaries and benefits are increasing, according to Business Administration Director John Vignone, with the majority of it attributable to rising pension costs.
"Eventually, we'll have to look at employees taking on more medical costs," he said. "We either have to hope for pension reform or look at reducing staff."
Sniscak said the district has lost more than 100 employees over the last three years.
"Do not minimize that," he said. "The increased class sizes makes it harder to provide services."
Compared to the last two years, personnel cuts won't be as drastic this year, according to statistics provided by Assistant Superintendent Rod Troutman. The district employs about 600 full-time and part-time instructors.
- Six teaching positions will be eliminated by attrition, Troutman said.
- One support staff position will be lost through attrition.
- One speech pathologist and one English as a Second Language teacher will be added at salaries of $60,344 each. Troutman said these are state-mandated additions.
- Adminstrators will recommend that the board add two elementary school teaching positions, at a cost of $120,688, as a precaution in case class sizes become too large, Troutman said.
Vignone said there is currently no way to assess what the 2013-14 school tax increase will be for each homeowner, due to Lehigh County's recent property reassessments.
"It's not possible to calculate now," he said. "You have to multiply the new assessment by the new millage rate. Every new assessment will be different."
Vignone said the district stands to lose $2 million in revenue this year due to property reassessments.
"However, we budget to lose 66 percent of that," he said. "But, if you lose 50 percent of that, you mitigate the loss and pick up dollars."
Vignone reminded administrators, directors and the board that $4 million in the fund balance will be used in this budget cycle. That will reduce the district's fund balance to $17 million from $21 million.
"[Using] fund balance is good, but if you don't manage it, it will bite you," he said.
A final budget will be presented May 21, with final adoption scheduled June 25.