No tax hike in Shaler Area’s proposed budget |
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The Shaler Area School Board approved a nearly $88.57 million preliminary budget for the 2019-20 school year on May 15. The plan keeps the millage consistent at 23.5 mills.

The proposed budget lists roughly $84.71 million in revenues. Shaler Area will close the budgetary gap using $3.8 million of its fund balance and continued budgetary monitoring for “cost-saving measures,” according to the district website.

The 2019-20 budget includes an overall increase of 4-percent compared to the 2018-19 budget. Salary and benefit increases account for the largest portion of the budget. Total salaries and benefits increased 5- and 4-percent respectively, for a total of $2.8 million. According to the district, $1.1 million of this amount is due to Shaler Area’s increased mandated contribution rate to the Public School Employees’ Retirement System, or PSERS.

Expenditures increased in the areas of special education from almost $12 million to $13.21, and pupil personnel from $2.8 to $3.63 million. Sherri Ludwig, district business affairs director, explained that the district reclassified special-education teachers and support personnel who were listed under the regular instruction category in the previous budget, if deemed appropriate. “Regular instruction” expenditures decreased from $36.64 to $36.35 million.

Furthermore, the district website states that Shaler Area instituted an aggressive attrition model in 2016-17 to reduce salaries and benefits.

“When appropriate, the district will continue to use this model to minimize the overall increase in salaries and benefits in the 2019-20 budget and into the future,” it states.

“Fiscal responsibility and operational efficiency remain at the forefront of the district’s priorities, and administration continues to look for creative ways to utilize staff, generate resources and reduce spending while maintaining the integrity of the academic programs.”

The budget delegates funding for the following upcoming security, safety and maintenance projects: hiring another school resource officer, installing additional security cameras, upgrading all buildings’ locks and doors, replacing the Shaler Area Elementary School roof, replacing the Shaler Area High School cooling tower, replacing the Biles Field artificial turf, repaving Paul Schweiger Way and the high school parking lots and initiating a districtwide energy conservation program.

School directors are scheduled to vote on the final budget at the 7:15 p.m. June 19 board meeting, at the district administration offices, 1800 Mount Royal Blvd. The budget is available for public inspection under the Business Office heading at, or during business hours at the district administration offices.

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