Early Frazier budget carries deficit
The Frazier School Board on Thursday directed Business Manager Kevin Mildren to file paperwork needed to raise taxes above the state-regulated index.
The school board approved a preliminary 2013-2014 spending plan that included a deficit of $743,549. Revenue in the plan totaled $15,033,182. Expenses totaled $15,776,731.
“The major impact was in the increases of our contribution to the employee retirement funds,” Mildren said during a work session prior to the business meeting.
“Our two primary sources of revenue are our education subsidies from the government and taxes levied.
“Until we know what the state is going to do, we have to be conservative.”
Mildren repeated a number of times that there is no guarantee taxes will be raised above the district's approved index of 2.4 percent.
The current tax rate is 13.33 mills. The district is able to raise taxes 0.32 mills without exceeding the index.
“We're in the same situation that every district in the state is,” Mildren said. “With the approval tonight, I have been authorized to file the necessary paperwork for the exceptions with the state Department of Education or the Court of Common Pleas. Preliminarily, the 0.32 that we can raise taxes just doesn't work.”
Mildren said he hopes that by April he will know how much money the state will provide in subsidies.
“Who knows how long that will really take?” he said. “Sometimes the state can't even pass the budget on time.”
Mildren said preparing a budget under existing conditions is difficult.
“The hardest thing is that the budget needs to be in before we even know the figures from the state,” Mildren said. “We're scrambling at the last minute, then the state may say they're cutting funding again across the board.”
Public school districts must approve budgets each year by June 30 – the same day the state must do so.
Mildren assured the board he will continue to work on the budget.
“We'll continue to look at how we can make cuts; this is a worse case scenario,” he said of the preliminary spending plan. “I will work with the board to bring it down.
“The state may realize that every district in southwestern PA is in the same situation as we are and increase funding for basic education.”
Board President Tom Shetterly expressed confidence in Mildren.
“This is pretty common of districts, now,” Shetterly said. “It's not uncommon to have a deficit of this size in a preliminary budget. It's hard to prepare when no one has any idea what the governor is going to do.”
In other business, the board approved an agreement with the Frazier Education Association to hold teachers harmless if situations arise that medication must administered to a student on the spot.
To describe an instance in which the agreement would come into play, Superintendent Dr. David Blozowich noted a student having an allergic reaction to a bee sting.
“The teacher can give the shot to the student if, for some reason, the nurse isn't around,” Blozowich said. “This pretty much assures the teachers that they can't be held liable if something goes wrong.”
Solicitor John Purcell said the FEA had a reasonable request that its members be protected in such situations.
“In a small school district, everyone has to wear a lot of hats,” Purcell said. “It's part of being a small school.”
Kelly Muic, director of educational programs and grants, said curriculum mapping has begun in an effort to boost student achievement in the language arts and mathematics.
“This provides direction for the community as to what is important about what their child is learning,” Muic said.
“This curriculum map will be used every day and will be modified to show what's being taught. We're moving in the direction that parents will be able to know what students will be able to do and what they'll know by year's end.”
The board approved:
• An athletic training internship agreement with California University of Pennsylvania for the 2013-2014 year. The cost will be $16,000.
• A contract with Eckles Architecture and Engineering Inc. for work on the new prekindegarten through grade eight building. It will receive 5.5 percent of construction costs.
During a presentation by Eckles, board members received drawings with materials listed for the building project. An update will be provided at a Buildings and Grounds Committee meeting Feb. 7.
Jeremy Sellew is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 724-684-2667.