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PR School Board Director Lyons Recommends Cutting Two More Teacher Positions

The school board votes June 25 on its 2012-13 budget.

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."

 

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Troy June 15, 2012 at 11:32 AM
To me as a parent, I feel this district really struggles with bullying (three major tragedies in 3 years). Both home ec and music teach kids to be more kind, caring, and HUMAN. I believe many of this district's problems would go away by making kids take MORE of these classes, not less. I also find it interesting that the schools that outperform PR in school rankings offer more music and home ec than PR does. I completely understand the fiscal concern, but some things - like humanity - are worth the cost.
Elizabeth June 15, 2012 at 12:00 PM
why is it never brought up about the teachers taking a freeze on their salaries. While their contract is up this year they should follow other districts such as NA did this year and take a freeze. The administrators and support staff already have. They need to enter the real world and quit asking for more.
Debra Phelan June 15, 2012 at 01:51 PM
Concerned Parent, I totally agree with you. Anyone who has a job (or a "permanent" job with benefits) is beyond blessed. Of course no one in their right mind wants to lay anyone off or take some classes away from our children, but our country is in a fiscal crisis and millions have been out of work for years now and are suffering greatly. I grew up in Hermitage, PA, and then went to D.C. 2 weeks after high school and had a 35-year dream career there. We were taught the "old fashioned" way in the 60s and 70s, and it served me well in my career. Our parents taught us how we were to conduct ourselves and care about others. The teachers/administrators were strict, great role models and had courses that were college level when I was in junior high school -- they were tough and we kids had to work our butts off to get A's -- as it should be. We students were the beneficiaries. We had such a heavy concentration in reading, English, composition and math for the entire 12 years, thank God. The teachers had our parents' backs, and we kids knew to act like civilized human beings and be on our best behavior. It should be that way today. If we students weren't caring, concerned for others and well mannered, our teachers would have called us out on it immediately, had a talk with us or administered the proper "punishment" THEN would have called our parents. We should be thankful that only two more teachers may be laid off considering the circumstances we find ourselves in.
crosbycat June 15, 2012 at 02:31 PM
I agree completely. The teachers can have the most impact on the kids over any purchased anti-bullying program. This district admin and board cares most about getting national recognition at the expense of the majority of kids who are "regular".
Alan June 15, 2012 at 02:40 PM
Does anyone know why we went outside for a Athletic Director? My God we are releasing gym teachers, why didn't we promote from within? How does the board justify paying $85K to an athletic director and now they want to release two more educators. Why does athletics trump education? Our district is all flash and no substance! Shame on Bucci and the board!!!
Richard June 16, 2012 at 06:58 PM
The AD from South Butler School District was a great hire. I agree that there are many qualified candidates at the school but Josh Shoop will be a great addition to Pine-Richland. On teachers taking a pay freeze, that could happen. I know that they are in negotiations right now. Don't forget the teacher unions last contract was as close to a pay freeze as you can get ($250 raise over 2 years) so they have been doing better. When I see that Deer Lakes teachers top out at $500 less than our teachers and NA $10,000 more, I think our salary scale is fair for our teachers. You might not agree with what teachers make but in comparison to other schools, they are not the problem. This school board has many tough decisions to make due to past errors in spending. They are doing the best they can and giving up time away from their families. Some of them have only been on the board for a year or two.
mr_frakypants June 19, 2012 at 04:15 AM
Brilliant move :( Sundo is right, but doesn't explain it far enough. PR is a Cadillac district. People move here before the brochures look good. They know it's expensive. What happens when the brochure starts to look a bit raggedy? Unfortunately there are no stats to rely on, but my gut tells me PR will better survive with taxes at double the current proposed increase than by making program cuts. You can always lower those taxes once the PSERS disaster has leveled off, but we all know those programs will never be coming back. Not to mention the fact that a defined benefit retirement program is mathematically (and morally) unsound, so the mandate to fund it while legal is certainly questionable. Something that cannot go on forever, won't.

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