PR Schools Superintendent Sends Community Letter about 2012-2013 Budget
Dr. Mary Bucci provides information about budget and comparisons to other school districts.
Today, Superintendent Mary Bucci released the following letter about the budget. It included the chart and graph to the right of this article.
As you know, the district has been working very hard to balance the budget for 2012-2013. We have excellent teachers and programs, which makes it very difficult to balance the budget. If we had unlimited resources, we wouldn't have difficult decisions to make.
These are the same decisions schools have been facing for several years across the country and locally. Pine-Richland School District is not immune from these struggles. Click here to see what other districts are experiencing, during these tough economic times.
The district administration and board of directors worked together to cut more than $6 million out of the general fund budget in the past two years (a 10-percent reduction in expenses in our general fund budget). However, these cuts are still not enough, due primarily to the following:
- The majority of a school district's budget is determined by contracts and regulations. The gap this year is largely due to the required increase in the district's contribution to our employees' retirement fund. The Pennsylvania State Employees Retirement System (PSERS) is a state-run organization that manages and controls the retirement system for all state employees, including PR employees. The PSERS board mandates the contribution rate and the dollar amount that PRSD and other public school members are required to contribute, to fund this ongoing liability.
- In 2008-09, districts were required to contribute 4.76 percent of employee salaries to PSERS.
- In 2012-13, the contribution rate jumps to 12.3 percent, an increase of $2 million.
- By 2017, PR will need to contribute $7 million, which is an increase of about $4 million from the projected 2012-2013 numbers. The graph (at right) shows the increase over time.
- The financial difficulty that we face is further compounded by reductions in state and federal funding for public education over the past two years, and the prospect for additional cuts at the state and federal level in future years.
- The graph (at right) shows the long term effects of the proposed budget - which includes a tax increase of $830,710, savings of $873,757 from curtailment of programs and use of $472,619 of assigned fund balance for capital maintenance items. As you can see, as the PSERS rates rise, the budget gap grows ever larger to a $6 million deficit in 2017.
- Pennsylvania currently reimburses the district 50 percent of its required PSERS contribution. The receipt of this reimbursement is reflected and assumed in the projections shown in this graph. However, reimbursement from the state is NOT mandatory, and also may be reduced or eliminated entirely by the state government.
As stated earlier, we have reduced our costs more than $6 million in the last two years, which included a pay freeze for our administrators at all levels and administrative support personnel. The district is also presently engaged in negotiations with the two bargaining units that represent the teachers and educational support employees, whose current labor agreements are due to expire in June. Beyond personnel, there are few other areas in the budget which provide a meaningful opportunity to reduce costs.
The state of the economy, now and in the foreseeable future, demands a different approach than what districts may have used in the past such as delaying technology purchases or deferring building maintenance. There are no short-term fixes. We must make reductions that have long-term benefits while minimizing the impact on student learning. We are doing that.
We will provide additional updates regarding our progress. We hope you will continue to partner with us, as we navigate our way through these difficult times.
Mary Bucci, Ed.D.
Budget Documents & Communications