Norwin School Board tries to anticipate state budget
Even after combing through Norwin's proposed $64.1-million budget turned up some $60,000 in potential savings, the school board is poised to approve a spending plan on Wednesday that requires a tax hike to make up for less state funding than officials originally anticipated.
When it was introduced last month, the preliminary Norwin budget included money from a $698,500 one-time “Ready to Learn” basic education subsidy that was proposed by Gov. Tom Corbett, said district business Manager John Wilson.
But feedback from organizations such as the Pennsylvania School Boards Association and the Pennsylvania Association of School Business Officials indicated that the governor's proposal likely will be slashed by lawmakers, Wilson said.
“What we are hearing from Harrisburg is that we probably won't get the entire amount,” he said. “So we cut (the expected size of) that subsidy to $349,000,” he said.
To make up for that, Wilson suggests trimming $20,000 from athletics, $20,000 from the high school, $10,000 from technology and $5,000 each from the middle and intermediate school budgets.
Even if those cuts are made, the district still would face a $327,000 revenue shortfall, he said, adding that areas still being reviewed for possible cost savings include utilities, transportation, insurance and workers compensation.
The proposed 1.85-mill increase in the real-estate tax rate would generate about $816,000 in additional revenue.
If approved, it would be the third hike in as many years. The district raised taxes by 0.65 mills for the 2013-14 school year and 1.45 mills for the 2012-13 school year.
The additional 1.85 mills would take Norwin's real-estate tax rate up to 70.95 mills. It would add $39 to the annual tax bill for a property valued at the district median assessment of $21,460.
Superintendent William Kerr said many of the school officials at a recent meeting sponsored by the school boards association that he attended were “very frustrated” by the state's budget process.
By law, district's must approve a final budget by June 30, which is the end of the fiscal year. Although state lawmakers are bound by that same requirement, the Legislature often has missed the deadline.
“It's absolutely frustrating that we can't build a budget until we hear from Harrisburg,” Kerr said. “They really have us behind the eight ball. One thing we did learn is that you can't count on anything at this point until the (state budget) process in completed in late June.”
Board members indicated that if Norwin receives additional funding from the state for next year, they would consider reopening the budget to scale back the tax increase.
“I don't like the 1.85 (mill increase) for sure,” board President Robert Perkins said.
Tony LaRussa is a Trib Total Media staff writer. Reach him at 412-856-7400, ext. 8626, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.