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Teaching positions, sports programs lost as Sto-Rox approves 2013-14 budget

| Thursday, June 27, 2013, 10:21 p.m.

Before his scheduled vote on Sto-Rox School District's budget on Thursday, board secretary Edward Maritz made a dire prediction.

If there's another year like this — with state aid lower than it was two years ago, rising costs of losing students to charter schools, and teaching and staff furloughs to make ends meet — the district could go bankrupt, he said.

“We have one year to do the best we can to lobby our legislators and our governor to make changes before this district goes under,” Maritz said.

The $24.04 million operating budget for 2013-14 was approved unanimously by the school board.

The budget keeps taxes at 22.6 mills and was balanced with $1.2 million from cash reserves and $800,000 in cuts, including 8 12 positions furloughed. Both spring athletic programs — boys baseball and girls softball — were eliminated.

The district will have about $1 million in its reserve account, and another year of deficits could send the schools into “financial recovery” status and state control, Maritz said.

Acting Superintendant Frank Dalmas declined to comment on Maritz's predictions.

The district cut 10 positions through retirements and attrition during the past three years. The 2013-14 budget furloughs an elementary school librarian, elementary school teacher, elementary special education teacher, home-school visitor who monitors truants, middle school science teacher, maintenance worker, secretary and cafeteria worker. The budget reduces a full-time music teacher to part-time.

School board President Elizabeth Smith said Maritz was asked to outline the district's possible financial crisis.

“Some parents have come forward expressing concerns about athletics, but not academics,” Smith said. “It was the board's hope this presentation would change that.”

Maritz urged parents and staff to contact legislators and support reforms to school funding, charter school tuition and tuition reimbursement — though he worries parents might lack motivation to get involved.

“People in this community are so desensitized to being marginalized that they just accept it,” he said.

Matthew Santoni is a Trib Total Media staff writer. Reach him at 412-380-5625 or msantoni@tribweb.com.

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