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Group presents ideas to cut costs without affecting education quality in Norwin

| Wednesday, Feb. 27, 2013, 8:06 p.m.

A district task force is exploring several ideas that could help cut costs without affecting education programs.

The Norwin School District's Efficient and Effective District Review Task Force, which formed in September, met four times to review the district's budget, staffing and management, according to task force member Ronald Guiliana.

“Our goal as a task force was to provide as much support as possible to provide an efficient and fair way to reduce expenses, and generate more revenue to maintain quality Norwin education,” Guiliana said.

The task force recommended district administrators examine costs associated with cyber charter schools, transportation, personnel, technology, and health care, and analyze the bond market for chances to refinance its existing bond issues.

The task force recommended administrators develop plans to review assessment appeals from newly sold commercial properties, and aggressively collect delinquent earned income tax, Guiliana said.

“Real estate assessment appeals on recently sold commercial properties in the district could generate approximately $200,000, annually, based on an analysis of 2012 sales,” Guiliana said. “The district can accelerate delinquent income tax collection by increasing man hours.”

The task force also recommended the district continue working on its energy conservation program, re-evaluate its student transportation system, and analyze its health care costs in hopes of finding savings, Guiliana said.

Guiliana said the groups also recommended district officials continue working with local legislators to discuss cyber and charter school funding, and state subsidies.

“We need to lobby state legislatures for a fair, adequate and equitable funding system for public education, so the district can meet the normal increased cost of operations on an annual basis,” Guiliana said.

School board president Robert Perkins said officials plan to take all of the task force's recommendations into consideration as it continues to develop the 2013-14 budget.

Last month, the board vowed not to exceed a 1.5 mill real estate tax increase to balance the $61.6 budget for next year, which includes a $1.9 million deficit.

“We hope to reduce the burden on the taxpayers, while keeping the high educational standards at Norwin,” Guiliana said.

Brad Pedersen is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-856-7400, ext. 8626, or bpedersen@tribweb.com.

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