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Plum School District drops idea of pay-to-play to ease budget woes

| Monday, March 20, 2017, 11:00 p.m.

Pay-to-play has been removed from the list of options being considered to ease Plum School District's budget woes.

“It's such a regressive fee to place on families,” school board member Michelle Stepnick said at a meeting last week. “I don't want to take an opportunity from someone. To me it's a horrible fee.”

The student activity fee that was being considered would have required parents to pay $100 per student for every sport or activity, such as band, in which they participated.

The fee would have generated an estimated $45,000 a year, according to Business Manager John Zahorchak.

“It was a rather small amount of money as a percentage of the total budget,” board member Steve Schlauch said. “It probably is not a good idea to ask the parents to fork out more money for their kids, since they pay enough as taxpayers already.”

The board adopted its preliminary spending plan in January with maximum tax increases, a projected sale of the former Regency Park Elementary School along Millers Lane and recruitment of Chinese students on a tuition basis. Those options, as well as the sale of delinquent taxes to Municipal Revenue Services for $1.8 million, remain in the budget.

“There's been a few things that have changed since the preliminary budget from a revenue side,” he said. “I have no furloughs budgeted. No staff reductions from the existing work staff and no program cuts or curtails as of now.”

Updated figures as of last week show projected revenue at $63,767,096 and expenditures at $64,595,923, an $828,827 shortfall. The district intends to balance the budget with money it borrowed last year. The projected deficit puts the district $4.3 million in debt, down from a projected $5 million at the start of the year.

Zahorchak said updated state and Allegheny County funding expectations, as well as a decrease in health care costs and salaries due to retirements, helped lower the projected debt. A final budget must be adopted by June 30.

The next board meeting is March 28 at 7 p.m. at the high school library, 900 Elicker Drive.

Michael DiVittorio is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at 412-871-2367 or mdivittorio@tribweb.com.

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