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Penn Hills School District looks to reduce projected deficit

| Friday, May 17, 2013, 11:06 a.m.

Staff cuts and debt refinancing might be required to balance a proposed $81 million budget in the Penn Hills School District for 2013-14.

The school board's finance committee next week will decide how to deal with a projected $5 million deficit. The school board will meet May 30 to decide between three budget scenarios, all of which will require more tweaking before the budget is balanced.

The best-case scenario, presented by district business director Richard Liberto at a finance committee meeting last month, was a mix of staff cuts and debt restructuring that left the district with a $925,000 deficit.

School board members did not return calls for comment on the budget or to offer more details on the potential cuts.

Liberto said if the board opted for the “best-case” scenario, the deficit would be made up either through additional budget cuts or additional debt refinancing.

Two other budget scenarios, which use only staff cuts or debt restructuring, show projected deficits of about $3 million.

The district's fund balance stands at about $3 million.

One potential bright spot is the final dollar amount that would come from restructuring the district's 2009 debt load: Liberto said he would have a better idea of the final amount by this past Monday's finance committee meeting, which took place after this paper's deadline. Visit YourPennHills.com for the latest updates.

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

The district must adopt a balanced budget by June 30. This year's budget is $72 million.

The school board's next meeting will take place May 30 at 7:30 p.m. at Linton Middle School, located at 250 Aster St.

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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