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Connellsville board to discuss district budget deficit

| Thursday, April 11, 2013, 7:30 a.m.

Connellsville Area School Board members will gather at 7 p.m. April 29 for a 2013-14 budget discussion. Business manager Gene Cunningham will present the school district's situation.

On Wednesday night, Cunningham said the audit for the 2011-12 school year was received this week. While things are not the best financially for the district, they are not as dire as he originally had thought, he said.

A deficit of $4,371,600 was budgeted for the fund balance, Cunningham said, but the actual deficit was $3,103,277, a difference of $1,268,323.

“The majority of that was revenue received for Basic Education Subsidy, which was greater than what was anticipated when the budget was adopted in June 2011,” Cunningham said.

As of June 30, 2012, the fund balance was $10,720,138, but with the 2012-13 budget operations in place now, the district is operating with a deficit of just over $3 million.

“If the budget holds true, the fund balance at June 30, 2013, should be $7,592,982,” Cunningham said.

Board members also were updated on the high school renovation project.

John Pappas, construction manager with Eckles Construction, said crews were able to complete the auxiliary gym locker rooms and corridor and then turn them over for use in March, so the main gym locker rooms would be available for renovations.

The gym flooring has not been installed because there were some moisture issues, Pappas said, but installation should begin the middle of next week.

Improvements to the natatorium that houses the swimming pool is in full swing. The demolition in that area is approximately 50 percent complete, and pool demolition and reconstruction work have begun, he said.

With the improved weather conditions, Pappas said, the contractor has been able to continue with site work, including the war memorial and building sign in front of the building.

The contractor is trying to do at least one concrete pour a day to finish the sidewalks and as much of the site work as possible before the school year ends, he said.

“We're trying to get as much done as we can before school is out, so that we can focus on finishing the building over the summer,” Pappas said.

The entire senior high renovation project is scheduled to be completed by August, before the start of the 2013-14 school year.

As for renovations to the former Connellsville Junior High West, which will be home to Zachariah Connell Elementary School students at the start of the 2013-14 school year, Pappas said that work is under way.

Some painting in rooms on the second floor has begun, he said, and over the next month they hope to wrap up any needed demolition.

“I expect all of the rooms to be defined by the time we meet next month,” Pappas said.

Superintendent Dan Lujetic said they need to come up with a new name for the building. He asked if directors and Zachariah Connell administrators could think about that over the next month, so it could be placed on the May agenda.

Director Gary Wandel suggested they get students involved and maybe make it some kind of contest, so they have a hand in renaming the school.

Rachel Basinger is a freelance writer.

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