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Elizabeth Forward adopts tentative budget, hopes to reduce taxes

| Thursday, March 28, 2013, 2:23 a.m.

Elizabeth Forward school board has adopted a preliminary budget of $39,274,848 for the coming school year.

The tentative budget approved Wednesday represents a $3.5 million, or 9.98 percent, increase in spending over the current year's plan.

The board is looking to decrease the tax rate in 2013-14 from 25.0118 mills to 20.3849 mills, a change that district officials say will be revenue neutral due to changes on the Allegheny County reassessments.

According to district figures, the debt service will increase by $1.1 million in 2013-14, pension contributions will go up $800,000, legacy costs will rise $335,800 and special education costs are increasing by $213,100. Other increases include $120,000 in extra spending on charter schools, $179,500 related to tax appeals and $97,000 more in medical premiums.

Superintendent Bart Rocco said the district still is feeling the sting of reductions in recent years to accountability block grants and charter school reimbursements.

Finance director Richard Fantauzzi noted the new budget does not call for any changes to staffing levels.

School board president Phil Martell said the board hopes to give final approval to the budget well before the deadline at the end of June.

“Our goal is obviously to have a final budget by May,” he said.

Prior to adopting the preliminary budget at the regular meeting, district officials recognized student athletes and coaches who Rocco said had an “absolutely phenomenal” winter sports season.

Recognized were members of the wrestling, swimming and girls basketball teams. The cheerleading squad drew special attention for taking first place and winning a judges choice award in the American Open cheerleading competition in Orlando, Fla., over the weekend.

Eric Slagle is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-664-9161, ext. 1966, or eslagle@tribweb.com.

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