ShareThis Page

Mt. Lebanon School District moves $2M from reserve fund to capital budget

| Wednesday, July 23, 2014, 9:00 p.m.

The Mt. Lebanon School Board will use $2 million from its reserves to pay for school repairs and for equipment and furniture for the high school.

The district's retirement fund will receive $1 million from reserves.

District staff had proposed moving $3 million from Mt. Lebanon's reserves to its capital projects fund, which pays for construction, large repair projects and purchases such as books, equipment and furniture.

A majority of the board wanted to keep $1 million of that in reserve in case of unforeseen expenses, such as a shortfall in state reimbursements or using up all the contingency funding for changes and fixes during the ongoing $109.65 million high school renovation.

“With all the issues we've had, building by building, we're going to need that contingency,” board member Dan Remely said.

The board on Monday approved about $225,000 in changes to the high school project.

The district had set aside more than $4 million to cover unforseen problems with the high school and has spent $3.62 million, or 85 percent of that, with more than a year left to go.

Board President Elaine Cappucci emphasized that staff don't believe the project will overrun the contingency budget.

Moving the money into the capital budget makes it available for renovation, construction or equipment purchases, including several add-ons to the high school or expenses that were left out of the original project.

Examples are a $52,000 contract approved on Monday to design and build a large trophy case; $265,000 for a new sound system in the auditorium; and $82,000 worth of cafeteria furniture.

Finance Director Jan Klein said that once money is put into the capital budget, it can not be transferred back out or used for purposes such as operating expenses, so the board opted to limit the transfer.

“If we need more, we can add more, but we can't take it back,” Remely said.

About $2 million in capital projects are listed for funding this school year, including repair at Washington Elementary, Howe Elementary, Jefferson Middle School and Hoover Elementary. The district would replace cellular antennae and repeaters to improve reception inside school buildings.

The board transferred $1 million to a fund covering health benefits for retirees.

District policy calls for keeping enough money in reserve to cover about 6 percent of operating expenses, and allows anything above that 6 percent to be transferred to other uses.

When an arbitrator sided with the teachers' union over pay issues for long-term substitutes, the district added about $5 million to its reserves while awaiting clarification on what the decision would cost. That cost came back lower than expected in May.

About $750,000 of the district's fund balance was used with a 0.54-mill tax increase to balance the 2014-15 budget.

Matthew Santoni is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-380-5625 or

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.