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It Ain't Over 'til It's Over—That's The Way of the PR Schools Budget

The school board finance committee meets Thursday night at 6:30 p.m.

It ain't over 'til it's over.

Baseball great Yogi Berra must have been watching the budget process for Pine-Richland schools when he said that.

Until the nine-member school board votes to adopt the budget and set a millage rate on June 25, anything can happen.

The school board's finance committee meets at 6:30 p.m. tonight (Thursday) to take up where it left off at Monday's full school board meeting. During budget discussions, the entire board usually attends finance committee meetings.

Director Peter Lyons on Monday asked Treasurer Dennis Sundo about the reasoning for a May 21 change in direction for the budget. 

The Pine-Richland School Board voted 5-4 on May 21 to adopt a $66.8 million proposed final 2012-13 budget that preserves 9.5 teaching positions in music and other areas as well as tentatively setting a 4.308 percent tax increase.

That would bring the millage rate to 22.8522. 

It maintained the elimination of 5.5 physical education teaching positions to make the budget balance. 

Less than a week prior, the board's finance committee recommended a budget that called for a 3.2 percent tax increase and cuts that included 15 teaching positions.

At the May 21 meeting, Sundo, who chairs the finance committee, recommended restoring the $480,752 in cuts that affect music, art, family consumer science, and elementary/advanced language arts instruction.

Voting in favor of the budget were Sundo, Katie Shogan, Laura Ohlund, Virginia Goebel, and Kevin Nigh.

Voting against were President Stephen Hawbaker, Vice President Jeffrey Banyas, Peter Lyons and Therese Dawson. 

That marathon meeting ended at 12:35 a.m. with the school board voting for a budget that has expenditures of $66,849,169 and total revenues of $66,376,549 and a fund balance utilization of $472,619.

In asking about the restorations, Lyons inquired whether something about financial projections looked rosier than when the budget process began.

Sundo said he knows the district will face a budget gap next year, but raising taxes to the 4.3 percent level allows the board to restore some of the proposed cuts this year, said Sundo, who described it as a "one-year stay."

As programs are dropped, Sundo continued, "our property values drop."

Lyons said he agreed with some of the restorations, like fourth-grade music.

"But when you look at family and consumer science (classes), I don't feel it's core to the district," said Lyons, who also questioned restoring beginner piano and music theory classes at the high school.

"It's opinion what you think is core," Sundo said.

The cuts "detract from the value of this district," according to Sundo.

"I appreciate it's a balancing act," Lyons said.

As for taxes, he said, a competitive tax rate also preserves property values.

The Pine-Richland School Board's finance committee meets at 6:30 p.m. Thursday at the district's administrative offices at 702 Warrendale Road in Gibsonia. The meeting is open to the public.

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