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

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The Norwin School District's 11-member Efficient and Effective District Review Task Force made several recommendations to the school board to help save money. Their recommendations included:

• Officials should review assessment appeals of newly sold commercial properties, and target delinquent earned income taxes through a more aggressive collection system.

• Administrators should refinance bond issues when it is practical and most advantageous to maximize financial benefits.

• The district should monitor continuing costs of cyber charter and charter schools, look into more charter school alternatives and work with local legislators on equitable funding methods for those schools.

• Administrators should negotiate new electricity, natural gas and communications contracts through a competitive bidding process, and continue exploring energy conservation options.

• The transportation department should examine all student transportation routes, the number of vehicles and seating capacity, and use computerized routing software to develop a more cost-effective and efficient delivery system.

• Administrators should review and evaluate all employee positions, including those vacated by resignation or retirement, to determine their effectiveness, need and use of resources.

• Administrators should take a conservative approach to collective bargaining to ensure the sustainability of the district, its education programming and services. The next collective bargaining opportunity is in 2015, when the current teachers' contract expires.

• District officials should evaluate staffing for the technology department, make comparisons to neighboring districts and determine if some services can be realigned or outsourced.

• Administrators should review the mandates of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, its impact on the district, and develop a plan to address required changes, and any increased costs.

• The district should expand the business-education partnerships to increase student opportunities and sources of revenue.

• The district should lobby state legislators for a fair, adequate and equitable funding system for public education so the district can meet the normal increased costs of operations on an annual basis.

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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

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