Hempfield Area School District approved preliminary budget
Hempfield Area School District’s proposed 2019-20 budget would reduce six positions — five paraprofessionals and one building aide — and saves district residents from yet another property tax increase.
School board members voted unanimously to move forward with a budget of more than $98.1 million budget. The budget sets taxes at 83.46 mills, putting a stop to the gradual increase in property taxes seen over the past five years.
Last year, the district ranked 12th out of 17 schools, with Franklin Regional having the highest school taxes in Westmoreland County. This year, the Hempfield budget was approved by the state to raise taxes by 2.33 mills, or 2.8%, said Wayne Wismar, district business manager.
In past years, officials have had to raise property taxes to account for a deficit, with taxes rising an average of 2.21 mills since the 2014-15 school year. The past two years, Wismar said, taxes were not raised for operational needs, but to fund capital projects.
In all, the district has about $69.4 million in expenditures for the 2019-20 school year, including social security, medicare and health care. With the majority of the district’s income provided through property taxes and earned income, the district brings in a total of $61.1 million through local sources, $35.8 million through the state and about $1.1 million from the federal government.
The increase in expenditures for the next school year is paid for through staffing cuts, saving the district about $186,950 by reducing six positions. Three other positions — two instructors and one support position — were eliminated through attrition.
High costs, including a 7.1% increase, or more than $14.7 million, that the district is required to pay into the retirement system and more than $42.8 million in staff salaries, forced school board officials to cut costs in transportation and staffing, Wismar said.
By cutting two full-sized buses, and reducing six routes, the district is saving about $100,800, he said. Other cuts include limiting floating substitutes and reducing building aides.
The preliminary budget will be put on a 30-day review before the final vote on June 17.
Megan Tomasic is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Megan at 724-850-1203, [email protected] or via Twitter .