Will two more teacher positions be cut from the Pine-Richland schools budget?
That is what Pine-Richland School Board Director Peter Lyons proposed Thursday night at the board's finance committee meeting.
Specifically, he suggests amending the proposed $66.8 million budget to cut two high school positions, for a $148,597 savings:
- a music teacher position by eliminating the beginner piano and music theory classes;
- a teacher in the Family and Consumer Sciences Department by cutting the child development class.
Lyons also proposes a 3.95 percent increase in the millage rate to 22.7734 mills per thousand dollars of assessed value.
That is a decrease from the 4.308 percent increase included in the proposed budget that the school board passed 5-4 in May.
The Final Budget Vote
The nine-member school board votes June 25 to adopt the budget at its 7:30 p.m. meeting at the district's administration building at 702 Warrendale Road in Gibsonia.
It could be a long night—at least five members must agree to the budget. If only seven members are present, a simply majority of four votes will not work.
"Compromise" is the key word, said Treasurer Dennis Sundo, because the school board must come out with a budget on June 25.
Votes Leading Up To This Point
The Pine-Richland School Board voted 5-4 in late May to adopt a $66.8 million proposed final 2012-13 budget that eliminates 5.5 physical education teaching positions.
More teacher cuts had been proposed, but the board restored the $480,752 in cuts that would have affected 9.5 teaching positions in music, art, family consumer science, and elementary/advanced language arts instruction.
Sundo recommended the restoration, along with a 4.308 percent increase in the millage rate to pay for it.
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.
Less than a week prior to the 5-4 vote, the board's finance committee recommended a budget that called for a 3.2 percent tax increase and cuts that included 15 teaching positions.
Lyons' Argument for the Amendment
When Lyons advanced the proposal to cut two more teaching positions, he referred to the district's long-range budget forecast that shows expenses outpacing revenue.
The nearly $149,000 in savings might not seem like much, Lyons said, but it adds up year after year.
"We will have saved, not expended," he said, and curtailing spending now puts the district in a better position in the future.
He also noted that the cost of a teaching position includes health care and retirement costs, which are increasing at a much faster rate than other budget expenses.
As prudent managers during a fiscal crisis, the board needs to address revenues and costs, Lyons said.
The 'Big Picture'
Director Therese Dawson said the school district cannot continuing doing things the way it always has.
"We need to look at these difficult times as opportunities," she said. "I think we're missing opportunities by staying stuck with the old way of doing things."
Dawson said she was "completely fine" with Superintendent Dr. Mary Bucci's original budget proposal, which called for cutting 15 teaching positions.
As a director, Dawson said, it is her job to look at the big picture.
"Fortunately or unfortunately, that is what I signed up for."