Plum school board plans series of budget meetings
With no consensus on a preliminary spending plan, the Plum School Board plans three budget sessions this month in an attempt to find common ground.
“I am extremely disappointed,” board member Michelle Stepnick said late last week. “I voted for (an immediate decision on a preliminary budget) that I did not love to let students know programs would be saved and to let taxpayers know there would be no increase.”
The Plum School Board during the April 29 meeting postponed consideration of a preliminary budget for the 2014-15 school year.
The vote was 5-4 to table a vote on a $58.1 million proposed spending plan that used nearly $800,000 in money from the district's reserve fund to balance it and did not include a tax increase. The proposed spending plan held the line on taxes at 18.758 mills.
The vote was along party lines with the five Republicans voting for the delay while the four Democrats voted against it. Stepnick, a Democrat, voted against tabling the motion.
The first workshop was scheduled for Tuesday evening, after the deadline for this edition.
A finance-committee meeting that is to include discussion on the budget is set for May 13 after the 6 p.m. facilities-committee meeting.
A third budget session is scheduled for May 21 after a 6 p.m. public hearing and the policy-committee meeting.
The meetings are scheduled in the Plum High School board room, adjacent to the cafeteria, 900 Elicker Road.
A vote on the preliminary budget is expected during the 7 p.m. voting meeting May 27 in the Plum High School auditorium.
Board vice President Joe Tommarello made the motion to table consideration of the proposed budget.
“We believe there is a lot more information to digest,” Tommarello said last week. “There is still a lot to be figured out.”
Tommarello said some board members want to take another look on whether to use nearly $800,000 in reserve money to balance the budget.
Tommarello also wants to further explore board President Sal Colella's suggestion to raise the property-tax rate to the state maximum, give the money back to property owners as a rebate and put them on notice that the maximum tax increase would be enacted for the 2015-16 school year.
Board member Kevin Dowdell during an April 22 finance-committee meeting suggested the board also consider program cuts.
In particular, Dowdell suggested phasing out French. The move would result in cutting two teaching positions at the junior high school at a savings of $126,588.
“We could add another Spanish teacher at the junior high and save $50,000,” Dowdell said.
Patti Brennan, whose son, Patrick, 15, is a freshman at Plum High School, opposes any program cuts.
Rather, Brennan suggests the board raise taxes.
“They need revenue,” Brennan said.
Raising taxes to the state maximum would generate nearly $800,000 for the district, said Superintendent Timothy Glasspool who recommends the measure.
The maximum tax increase would mean a $60-increase in school taxes for the owner of a home appraised at $110,000, considered the median home appraisal in Plum.
Stepnick wants to again discuss balancing the budget by taking money from a fund for capital improvements. The board two years ago voted to place $2.5 million from reserves into that fund.
“It was overzealous to put $2.5 million away (in the fund),” Stepnick said.
Board member Tom McGough, finance-committee chairman, said members will go back over the budget “item by item.”
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.
- Plum to adjust school configurations
- Plum Girls’ Leaders Association: It’s time to talk trash
- Plum’s fire departments focus on safety message
- Children follow in father’s footsteps as Plum drum majors
- Plum celebrates Homecoming
- Plum teen to travel to Disney for leadership conference
- Buried tanks give Plum School Board pause whether to buy site for bus garage
- Man gets no foul to keep fowl on less-than-2 acre lot near Boyce Park