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Quaker Valley board will use reserve to bridge budget gap

| Tuesday, May 21, 2013, 1:54 p.m.

Quaker Valley school board members plan to use reserve funds to balance a more than $42 million budget for the following school year.

District leaders say the budget gap is roughly $192,000.

Board members approved the district's proposed final budget last week, 7-0. Members David Pusateri and Debbie Miller were absent, spokeswoman Tina Vojtko said.

The board will vote on a final budget next month.

Under the proposed final budget, board members could approve a millage of 16.93, though the number still could slightly change based on Allegheny County assessment numbers, Vojtko said.

“I emphasize that this budget is preliminary,” Superintendent Joseph Clapper said. “We remain hopeful that state allocations to public schools will increase beyond the governor's proposed budget, and we are awaiting the most up-to-date figures from Allegheny County regarding property assessments.”

Under the proposed millage, the owner of a Sewickley Borough home valued at $180,600 — the average median value, according to the Allegheny County treasurer's office — would pay $3,058 in taxes. That's about $800 less than the current year with a property-tax rate of 21.25 mills.

In Bell Acres, the owner of a home valued at the borough's median of $139,550 would pay $2,363 — a drop of about $600.

A majority of the district revenues – 84 percent — are derived from local taxpayers, district leaders say.

The 2013-14 year budget is about 2.68 percent larger than the current year's budget.

Of that, 2.18 percent represents state-mandated increases to employee retirement costs, according to district officials.

Employee groups — including administrators — in the district will see wage concessions and freezes, Clapper said.

“We continue to work diligently to reduce expenditures and create efficiencies while preserving our quality educational programs,” he said. “Our staff understands the financial challenges that public schools face.”

The proposed final budget keeps the district's contribution to the Sewickley Public Library at $497,000.

Among new and continuing initiatives included in the budget is the potential to transform the middle school library into an “educational space that fosters innovation and creativity for 21st-century learners where students choose to spend their time,” Vojtko said.

Bobby Cherry is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-324-1408 or rcherry@tribweb.com.

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