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Frazier School District works to eliminate projected deficit

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Saturday, Feb. 22, 2014, 1:11 a.m.

Property owners in the Frazier School District could face a 3.3-mill real estate tax hike if the board fails to reduce an almost $1 million projected budget deficit for 2014-15.

Business manager Kevin Mildren said school board members will discuss various options for reducing expenses or raising property taxes during upcoming finance meetings.

As of Jan. 16, Mildren said, original budget revenues totaled $15,415,276.

On Feb. 4, the district received news that it will get $209,753 in state funding from the new Ready to Learn grant. The new funding stream will replace the former Pennsylvania Accountability Block Grant.

The state will award the school district an additional $3,336 in special education funding over preliminary budget figures.

Additional expenditures for this year's spending plan include $25,000 for a new math textbook series for middle school students and $100,000 to add to the capital reserve fund to address critical facility repair issues, according to Mildren.

With these changes, he said, the projected deficit will decrease from $957,712 to $869,623.

The school board's finance committee plans to meet to discuss potential expenditure savings.

The projected savings could total $233,391 if the school board decides to maintain pre-kindergarten expenses to the same level of grant funding; freeze salaries for administrators and nonunion support staff; eliminate the driver's education program; eliminate summer school and readiness programs; and reduce athletic programs and budgets.

“I want to make it clear that the school board has not decided to implement any of these cutbacks, but school board members will be meeting to discuss possible ways to reduce expenses,” Mildren said.

If additional cutbacks are not made, he said, property owners could face a 3.3-mill tax increase to raise $854,748. This would include 1.71 mills to cover $443,006 for the year-to-year increase in debt service; 0.78 of a mill to generate $201,178 in benefit cost increases; and 0.81 of a mill to cover contracted salary increases.

Cindy Ekas is a contributing writer.

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