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EF board OKs budget after missing deadline

| Thursday, July 11, 2002

The Elizabeth Forward School Board Wednesday night approved a $28.4 million budget that calls for no tax increase or reduction in programs but makes significant cuts in the budgetary reserves.

Passage of the spending plan by a 6-3 vote comes 10 days after the state's June 30 deadline for districts to have a budget in place.

Voting to approve the budget were Joan Astrab, William Boucher, John Clark, Laurie MacDonald, Lowell Meek and Linda Bennett. Eva Bizzozero, Michael O'Rourke and Ron Skrinjorich voted against the spending plan.

Elizabeth Forward was the only one of the 42 suburban school districts in Allegheny County that had been operating without a budget since the fiscal year began on July 1.

Without a budget, the district was forbidden to pay its bills, according to the state Department of Education.

The board debated the budget for months, with an early version calling for no tax increase but eliminating almost all extracurricular activities, including sports programs.

The board finally agreed last night to cut the fund balance by $100,000 and the budgetary reserve by $200,000.

The fund balance, which has been reduced to $82,000, is money set aside for unexpected emergencies. The budgetary reserve is money that was being set aside for possible increases in a new contract for nonprofessional employees. Those contract talks are ongoing.

The district's tax rate for 2002-03 remains at 20.61 mills.

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