Personnel Costs Examined in $65.4 Million Schools Budget

Finance committee spends hour in executive session to discuss personnel.

As the Pine-Richland School Board considers how to close a $2.4 million gap in its 2011-12 budget, the conversation inevitably comes around to its biggest expense -- personnel.

 The finance committee discussed that matter for an hour Wednesday night -- but not publicly.

Pennsylvania's Sunshine Act requires government agencies to do business in the open, but allows closed executive sessions to discuss matters involving employment.

While board members did not discuss personnel costs publicly, Director of Finance and Operations Dana Siford provided printouts of budget information that showed the cost of salaries and benefits to be $41.5 million, or 63 percent of the budget.

Overall, Pine-Richland School District is looking at $65.4 million in expenses for the 2011-12 school year and $63 million in revenue.

Before the finance committee went into an executive session, Siford explained that revenue projections are still in the early stages. She detailed some of the expenses.

"We're looking at not filling vacant positions," Siford said after the meeting, noting the district also did that last year. Other scenarios regarding changes in personnel are "yet to be determined," Siford said.

She also noted that nearly 30 employees will be eligible for retirement during the 2011-12 school year, and $540,720 has been set aside for faculty payouts, which are contracted items such as payment for unused sick time.

Those retirements would likely be announced in the spring of 2012.

"Administrators are working really hard to give us options," said Richard Herko, a director on the school board. "We were talking about personnel. There's so much more information we need."

The district does not have final figures on how much money it will receive from state and federal governments, local tax revenue or enrollment projections, Herko said.

"The impact on each school district is completely different," said Siford, who plans to meet with her counterparts in Hampton Township.

"We can't look at other schools for best practices because we're all going through this crisis," said Herko. "Pine-Richland is unique (among local school districts) in that it is still growing."



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