Electives could be restored in Plum School Board budget
The Plum School Board has backed off its plan to cut 21 teaching positions to help balance the $55.2 million preliminary budget.
The board's decision during last week's budget workshop could restore a host of electives that board members recommended cutting last month.
School director Sal Colella, education committee co-chairman, said 17 positions that were slated to be eliminated have been placed back in the budget.
He said the committee also recommends adding two sixth-grade teachers.
Consideration is being given to filling a vacant elementary music teaching position and hiring an additional kindergarten teacher.
The positions at the high school that have been placed back in the budget are: three Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps instructors, three business-education teachers, two technical-education instructors, one librarian, one guidance counselor and the television-production teacher.
Two computer-instruction positions, two world-language positions and two technical-education positions have been restored at Oblock Junior High School.
“We have spent countless hours on this budget,” Colella said. “And next year we may be in the same (financial) position. It's not going to change.”
The preliminary budget, which originally showed a $1.5 million budget deficit, now calls for a tax increase that would raise an additional $460,068 in revenue. The millage, currently at 22.2, is expected to be set at the meeting 7 p.m. June 25, when the board is scheduled to consider a vote on the final budget.
Staff cuts and program eliminations would save $591,612. The budget also would be balanced by taking $448,300 from a reserve fund.
The most recent proposed cuts include: the Boyce Campus Middle College High School (BCMC); a guidance counselor and physical-education instructor; the family-and-consumer-science program at the high school; and several aides and a library/nurse administrative assistant at the high school. The elimination of the BCMC program is expected to save the district $234,913, according to district figures.
Colleen Prokopik, family-and-consumer-sciences teacher at the high school, told the board she doesn't understand the reason the program is being cut.
“The classes are packed, and they (the classes) have academic vigor,” Prokopik said.
Martha Freese, president of the Plum Borough Education Association (PBEA) advised the board to keep all programs in place.
Board member Kevin Dowdell said members met with PBEA officials to try to reach an agreement on concessions by the teachers and avoid program cuts.
Dowdell said the PBEA offered half a million dollars in concessions, in part by teacher salary reductions for the 2013-14 school year.
Dowdell said the talks broke down when the board decided against a one-year teacher contract extension through June 30, 2015. The existing contract expires June 30, 2014.
“We were uncomfortable (agreeing to a contract extension) due to the uncertainties with future payments to the Pennsylvania School Employees' Retirement System and health care legislation,” Dowdell said.
Colella said a one-year contract extension would have cost the district an additional $900,000 in salaries for the 2014-15 school year.
“Why would we spend $900,000 to get $500,000 (in savings from concessions)?” Colella asked. “The contract is so antiquated.”
The PBEA said the contract extension would have resulted in an additional $727,758 in salaries.
The next finance committee meeting is scheduled for 6 p.m. Tuesday at the high school.
Karen Zapf is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-856-7400, ext. 8753, or 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.
- With tax increase looming, Plum School Board takes a swipe at cutting expenses
- Plum budget holds taxes, but adds ‘flood mitigation fee’
- Plum Boy Scout troop has decorated VA trees for a decade
- A vision for Sugar Plum Days: Support efforts launched for 2015 return throughout Plum
- Plum Council OKs budget with no tax increase