ShareThis Page

Kiski Area School District programs feel effect of federal spending cuts

| Tuesday, April 30, 2013, 7:32 a.m.

Automatic funding cuts caused by the failure to reach a federal budget compromise are affecting Kiski Area School District.

District Business Manager Peggy Gillespie said Monday there are three areas where the district will be receiving less money than it should because of the cuts, also referred to as the federal sequestration. Those areas are Title I, special education funding through the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) and school construction through the Build America Bonds program. The program provides state and local governments with a new, direct federal payment subsidy for a portion of their borrowing costs on taxable bonds.

Overall, Gillespie said it appears the district will receive $104,000 less than anticipated through the three programs.

That is not good news for the district, which is looking at $52 million in expenditures, at least initially, while projecting $49 million in revenues.Gillespie said that some figures on the preliminary budget will change by the time she presents it at next week's board meeting.

“I fully expect to bring you a budget that is less than $52 million,” Gillespie told the district's finance committee.

“Looking into your crystal ball, how much less?” board member Robert Keibler asked.

“Not $3 million,” Gillespie replied.

The shortfall will be covered by the district's fund balance and will not result in a tax increase, she said.

“Our reserves are healthy,” Gillespie said. “We have over 8 percent in our unreserved fund.”

“We cannot raise taxes because we are over 8 percent in our fund balance,” committee chairman David Anderson said.

“It (the surplus) will deplete, but we are not at critical mass yet,” Superintendent John Meighan said.

Gillespie said the biggest increase in the budget is for retirement costs at about $900,000. Salaries will increase by $185,000 while health care costs will rise by only $50,000. Also, curriculum and textbooks expenditures will rise by $391,000 and technology equipment costs will add $129,000.

She said the technology equipment is badly needed as the district had cut allocations for that in the past few years.

There will be some savings in a reduction in staff, but none of it will be realized through furloughs, Gillespie said. She said there are 11 teachers and one clerical staff person retiring. The clerical position and four of the teaching positions will not be filled.On the positive side of the ledger sheet, Gillespie said district revenues have risen by $891,000. That includes a Forbes Road Vo-Tech refund of $191,000, a special education refund of $223,000 from the Intermediate Unit and $101,000 from the federal E-Rate program that subsidizes Internet access for schools. There is also an additional $248,000 in the state basic education subsidy, bringing the district's total to $15.2 million.

The remaining additional revenue is from increased wage tax collections and additional real estate and real estate transfer taxes through growth in the local real estate market, Gillespie said.

Board votes to close Washington Elementary

The board unanimously voted to follow through on the district's plan to close Washington Elementary School.

Fifth- and sixth-graders from Washington and also Bell-Avon Elementary, which also is targeted for closing under the plan, will attend the expanded and renovated North Washington Elementary School.

Children in the lower grades will ultimately attend school at Vandergrift Elementary which is scheduled for renovation as well.

There were no objections from only a handful of residents who attended the public hearing Monday. Most of the board members who spoke said they believed that closing the school is the right decision.

A hearing on the closing of Bell-Avon will be held at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday in the administrative center at 250 Hyde Park Road, Allegheny Township.

Tom Yerace is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-226-4675 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.