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.

whittled a $853,000 gap in its proposed 2012-2013 budget down to $462,097 and is negotiating with district support staff for a to help offset the rest.

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 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 accepted a wage freeze for next year. The district 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 , 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. 







John May 11, 2012 at 11:25 AM
I am not certain who our administration thanks they are fooling with this smoke and mirror 'budget', as they need to realize that people who live in the district, who can afford an over 41% mill age rate probably include CEO's and CFO's. Cutting $65,000 from an athletic budget, and then listing a MS lacrosse coach and weight room activities is kind of like cutting band aids from an emergency medical kit to decrease the cost of healthcare! $96,000 'reduction' in salary and benefits? Are you kidding? With a system that pays teachers a starting salary of $48,000 for 180 days of work annually (that's 72% of what the typical worker works -250 work days/yr), your "cuts" equal 1 teacher and a part time lunch employee plus benefits. So 1.5 FTE's are retiring and your not replacing them? Way to sharpen your blade! I especially like the hidden bomb where administration WILL NOT be taking a wage freeze in '12-13, but that calculation has not yet been figured into the budget! Again, you're kidding, right? In a system where teacher assistants and support staff have enjoyed a 20% increase over the last 4 years, while the rest of the country is in a recession with unemployment somewhere in the 9-15% range, one might question the numbers. Rather than playing mathematical gymnastics, why not publish real numbers? Start with a real mean number of the typical assessed home in the Parkland district?
John May 11, 2012 at 12:57 PM
In addition, can we get a grasp on the "budget reserves"? If you work in the real business, and you are "over budget", you have to do 2 things. 1. UTILIZE your reserves before cutting services, and 2. CUT services or personnel to achieve a balanced budget. According to this article, PSD 1. Has reserves. 2. Plans on increasing administrative salaries and 3. Plans to increase taxes to do so. Does anyone else see what's wrong with this picture? Recommendation: 1. STOP overspending what you don't have, 2. Utilize your reserves to get out of the problem you currently find yourself 3. Make decisions to cut services AND personnel that have the least overall effect 4. FREEZE salary raises until a balanced budget can be secured. If employees (including administrators) don't feel the pain of the economy, how will they ever understand what the taxpayer is feeling. Finally, I am more incensed than ever to continuously hear about budget limitations while the highest paid (administrators) are planning on salary INCREASES for '12-13. If you work for an underwater company, you cannot get salary increases! Then you can opt to quit, and go out to the private sector and enjoy REALITY! "Nobody spend your money faster than somebody else"!
John May 11, 2012 at 01:30 PM
Just some easy Math....Mr. Superintendent: your company after your cuts remains $462,000 in the red. Your teachers are taking a salary freeze. If the average teacher makes $65,000, while the average administrator makes $90,000, how do you ever believe you will gain control of your budget by allowing the highest paid employees a % increase. Cutting further employees/services to allow for administrative salary increases will eventually lead to administrators administrating administrators, because all of the other staff has been cut or resigned. Too many Chiefs, not enough Indians. I believe the taxpayer is paying for services, not more people telling people what to do.


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