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Belle Vernon Area finances look solid

| Tuesday, April 23, 2013, 7:21 a.m.

The Belle Vernon Area School Board won't vote on a tentative 2013-14 school year budget until May, but Superintendent Dr. John Wilkinson provided a sneak preview that drew applause from the audience Monday.

The anticipated spending plan will include no property tax increase for Fayette County taxpayers in the district and a slight decrease for Westmoreland County residents, Wilkinson said at the end of a budget preview at the Monday meeting.

Wilkinson called business manager Eileen Navish “a superstar” for her work on the budget and said the administration has a multi-year plan to improve curriculum districtwide.

The budget Wilkinson laid out includes $32,906,232 in revenue and expenditures of $34,989,118. It is balanced with $3.16 million from the fund balance and anticipated savings of $1.5 million in the current spending plan.

While Wilkinson cautioned that the budget figures will fluctuate a little, he said that under the existing scenario, the new budget would end up with a $2.53 million surplus.

That figure would represent 7 percent of the budget. The state Department of Education recommends a surplus of 4 percent to 8 percent to account for unanticipated expenses.

Wilkinson said budget concerns for future years will include the impact of the district's contribution to the state retirement system, increased salary and benefits, the unpredictability of state and federal subsidies, and “how to do more with less.”

In other business, the board approved a reconfiguration of district buildings, despite a petition opposing the movement of high school Principal Greg Zborovancik to the newly formed middle school.

Students Julia Seich and Jessie Smith presented the board with petitions they said comprised more than 500 signatures of students and parents opposed to the move.

“We feel he's a little better for us,” Seich said. “He's not just our principal, he's our friend.”

Smith said Zborovancik's background in counseling is better suited to help high school students.

But director Joe Grata said Zborovancik will be able to “move kids through the system” more effectively at the middle school level.

Retired teacher Gloria Yuschak said she took exception to Wilkinson's comment last month that Zborovancik is needed at the middle school because of a divide in the communities in the district.

But several board members concurred that there is a divide – created by adults – among the district's communities.

Director Aaron Bialon said the reconfiguration will provide financial gain for the district and will better align curriculum.

Chris Buckley is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-684-2642 or cbuckley@tribweb.com.

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