Public feedback sought on Plum schools' budget
Plum School District's preliminary budget deficit has been trimmed to about $1.5 million.
School board members are looking for the public to bring them ideas on how to further pare down the deficit during a town hall meeting scheduled for 6 p.m. on March 18 in the auditorium of Oblock Junior High School, 440 Presque Isle Drive.
“We definitely have our work cut out for us,” board member Tom McGough said last week. “I believe if we have that synergy we can get tens of thousands of dollars (from the deficit), run the school district efficiently, have quality education and do what we are elected to do.”
Board President Sal Colella said the nearly $2.4 million deficit in the proposed spending plan for the 2014-15 school year was whittled down after the district received some updated information including a projected $430,000 savings from expected teacher retirements.
A tentative plan also calls for taking out $200,000 from the district's contingency fund and placing it back into the general fund.
The move would leave $50,000 in contingency.
Some board members last week said the fund needs to have more money for potential emergency spending situations.
Colella also said officials were looking to balance the spending plan with the use of $805,000 from the district's fund balance that is estimated to be $2.1 million at the end of June and a potential tax increase under the Act 1 index that would net the district about $669,000.
McGough, finance committee chairman, suggested officials conduct an audit to find ways to save money on energy bills.
“If the temperatures in the buildings are set at 1 degree warmer (in the summer months) and 1 degree cooler (in the winter months), you would be surprised how much money we could net from that,” McGough said.
McGough also suggested cutting building and department budgets by 5 percent.
Board member Loretta White suggested axing staff and administrative attendance at conferences.
Amid the discussion about energy conservation programs, eliminating staff attendance at conferences and further slashing building budgets, board member John St. Leger urged his colleagues to look at larger expenses.
“We have to cut salaries, wages and benefits,” St. Leger said. “We have to go to the people and say, ‘We need you to help us, give us money back.' We have to hold the line.”
The budget draft does not include any raises for the district's 264 teachers as officials last month began contract negotiations.
Salaries account for about one-third of the budget, business Manager Eugene Marraccini has said. In particular, teacher salaries total about $21 million in the current $56 million budget.
Plum Borough Education Association President Martha Freese did not respond to an email requesting a response to St. Leger's comments.
Board member Michelle Stepnick suggested administrative raises also be struck from the budget.
The board typically spends about $30,000 annually in administrative raises.
Superintendent Timothy Glasspool last year took a wage freeze for the final two years of his contract that expires in 2015. Glasspool's salary is $132,600.
The deadline for school boards to approve balanced budgets is June 30.
Karen Zapf is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-856-7400 ext. 8753 or email@example.com.
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.