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Linglestown Gazette: CD again faces big budget challenges

Monday, October 15, 2012

CD again faces big budget challenges

The Central Dauphin School Board learned Monday evening what they already knew – putting together the 2013-2014 school budget is going to be a royal pain in the neck.

Fortunately, the district has plenty of money in the bank (over $59 million at the end of September), a great bond rating (AA) and a strong balance sheet (assets far exceed liabilities).

The challenge is to close $5.5 million projected revenue shortage in next school year's spending plan, said Karen McConnell, the district's longtime business manager.

Most of the $5.5 million needed to balance the budget comes from two areas – increased state-mandated pension contributions and labor contracts that call for pay hikes.

The pension increases are downright scary. McConnell said they would go from $8 million to $19 million over four years. She is working on a plan to spread out the financial pain over seven years.

The only sure bet is that the school property tax rate will go up at least 1.7 percent, the state maximum.

Odds are the board will opt to seek an exception from the state to increase the tax rate by more than 1.7 percent to address the huge jump in pension contributions. The deadline for this decision is early next year.

The board and school administrators will work on the budget over the next eight months. Watch the Gazette for updates.

Other stuff from last night's meeting:

* Peter Mireles, a teacher at Central Dauphin Middle School and a new co-president of the teacher union, introduced himself to the board and the public.

* Teacher union co-president Georgia Smee told that board that teachers are ready to work and give 100 percent despite stresses caused by increased state-testing targets and last year's teacher furloughs.

* Eric Epstein, business manager for the bus drivers' union, informed the board that overcrowding on some bus routes is continuing. He called for improved communications between the drivers, the district and Durham, the district's bus contractor. CLICK HERE to read his testimony and HERE for coverage on this issue by WHTM abc27.

* Superintendent Carol Johnson asked the board for more time to analyze the influx of about 200 students at the beginning of this school year before holding public meetings on possible closure of some school buildings.

* Several members of Boy Scout Troop 368 attended the meeting to work toward qualifying for merit badges.

* Also in attendance was the steering committee of the recently formed Citizens for CD Schools – Deb Steely, Lisa Kraus, Everette Hamilton, Dan Slatt and Bill Bostic.

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2 Comments:

At 9:24 AM, Anonymous Karl said...

iT IS IMPORTANT FOR THE PUBLIC TO UNDERSTAND THAT THE SCHOOL BOARD DID NOT NEGOTIATE HIGHER PENSIONS FOR THE DISTRICT STAFF. THE HIGHER PENSION COSTS ARE DUE TO THE STATE LEGISLATURE RAISING THEIR OWN PENSIONS AND INCREASING ALL THE STATE AND LOCAL SCHOOL DISTRICT EMPLOYEE PENSIONS TO KEEP THE LEGISLATORS PENSION GRAB QUIET. DO NOT BLAME THE SCHOOL BOARD FOR THE PENSION INCREASES BLAME YOUR LOCAL/STATE LEGISLATORS.

 
At 9:31 AM, Blogger  said...

Right you are, Karl. Thanks much for your insights!

 

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