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Manager: Yough School District's 'new normal' is budget deficit

| Thursday, May 2, 2013, 12:01 a.m.

Without final details of changes to tax rates, the Yough School District is seeing a “new normal” of expenses outnumbering revenues.

Business manager Mike Wrobleski on Wednesday presented a preliminary budget for the 2013-2014 year during a school board work session that would require the district to use between $994,000 and $1,209,000 of the fund balance to make up for a deficit.

“Essentially what's happening is our expenses are growing faster than our revenues and that trend, I think, is going to continue. Unless something changes in Harrisburg, I don't see revenues increasing dramatically,” he said.

Expenditures are estimated to increase 2.8 percent, with health and retirement benefits accounting for the largest portion.

Salaries are estimated to increase $129,000 because of eight retiring teachers whose positions will be evaluated by Superintendent Janet Sardon, but will likely be filled again, Wrobleski said.

External tuition costs are estimated to increase because of more students attending Central Westmoreland Career and Technology Center, but school officials agreed that those expenses are well worth the cost.

“The addition of tech students, even if it's increasing our budget, isn't a bad thing,” said Director Chris Boucher.

Wrobleski said over the past two years, the district has seen an increase in 55 students attending the vocational-technical school in New Stanton and are estimating an increase of another 20 students for the upcoming school year.

Tuition for each student costs the district $5,300.

The district plans to refund bonds that will decrease debt service as well as new borrowing for Act 39 projects and replacement of roofs.

Yough's fund balance is estimated to remain between $4.1 million and $3.8 million depending on a final decision on any changes to real estate millage.

“It seems like things aren't looking as good, but relatively speaking we're still doing fairly well” when compared to other districts in Westmoreland and Allegheny counties, Wrobleski said.

The highest allowable tax millage rate increase at 1.77 mills would bring in $215,000 to the school district.

Sardon said after the meeting that this first presentation of the budget still may undergo some changes to account for the uncontrollable cost increases in items such as health care and retirement benefits.

Stacey Federoff is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-836-6660 or sfederoff@tribweb.com.

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