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PHSD works to address $5M deficit in budget

| Thursday, April 25, 2013, 11:01 a.m.

A Penn Hills School District budget with a $925,000 deficit is the best-case scenario that district business director Richard Liberto said he could present to the school board finance committee.

Liberto spoke to the committee April 15, laying out several budget options for the 2013-14 year that utilize combinations of staff cuts and restructuring the district's 2009 debt.

All of the scenarios call for $81 million in expenditures for the year, and figure in revenue of $75.7 million — for a $5.3 million deficit.

Restructuring the 2009 debt would be a one-year fix and would alleviate $2.3 million to $4 million of the deficit, Liberto said.

Two of the four budget options he recommended include staff reductions that would cut an additional $2.1 million from the deficit.

Liberto said that dollar figure doesn't represent a specific number of positions, “just the number needed to make the budget work.”

Liberto also bemoaned the silence from state officials about education funding.

“There's so much unknown,” he said.

“We haven't heard anything since February at the state level.”

The budgets Liberto recommended are projected to play out as follows:

• Staff reductions only — projected $3.2 million deficit.

• Debt restructuring only — projected $3 million deficit.

• Combination of both — projected $925,000 deficit.

Liberto referred to the combination option as “the most realistic budget.”

He also requested that the district move its May school board meeting — at which the board would vote on a preliminary 2013-14 budget — from May 13 to May 30 in order to have the maximum amount of time to rework budget numbers based on new information regarding state funding.

No action was taken on this.

The district must adopt a budget by June 30.

Patrick Varine is an editor for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-320-7845 or pvarine@tribweb.com.

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