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Faced with $200,000 shortfall, Riverview institutes spending freeze

| Tuesday, Feb. 4, 2014, 12:51 a.m.

The Riverview School Board held its first budget workshop for the 2014-15 school year on Monday night.

First, the school district has to be concerned with a looming deficit for this school year.

Because of factors such as the Allegheny County property reassessment and a subsequent 470 appeals from district property owners, a shortfall could be more than $200,000.

Superintendent Margaret DiNinno and Business Manager Tammy Good have put a freeze on noncontractual, nonessential spending.

A total of $200,000 was spent on building renovations, but school board members said it wasn't budgeted for this year.

The school board had to spend some of that money on school safety issues to secure an elementary building.

DiNinno said one administrative position was eliminated this year, along with four teaching positions and a custodial job.

The district serves 1,023 students, three less than 2012-13.

Officials are hoping not to dip into the school district's $1.6 million fund balance to square up this year's spending.

As for next school year, preliminary figures call for $19.78 million in total revenue and $20.4 million in expenditures — a $600,000 shortfall.

The current real estate tax rate is 21.18 mills. According to the state inflation-based index, taxes can't be raised more than 2.5 percent, or 0.52 mill, without voters' approval.

No votes were taken on the 2014-15 budget or real estate tax rate. Officials are hoping for a preliminary budget vote in May.

Officials are hoping the school district will receive about $120,000 in extra revenue from 14 properties at the Edgewater tract that have been occupied since Jan. 1.

An Allegheny County judge might be petitioned to rule if those new properties can be put on the tax rolls for the next school year.

The school board indicated that travel and supply purchases could be curtailed and that the district would not enter into another long-term bond issue.

Interim principal hired

The school board elevated Assistant Principal Tiffany Nix to interim principal, replacing Jay Moser, who accepted a position with the Allegheny Intermediate Unit.

The board elevated social studies teacher Eric Hewitt to interim assistant principal for the rest of the school year.

George Guido is a freelance writer for Trib Total Media.

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