Sunday, May 17, 2015

On School-District Budgets

Connellsville School District may or may not have a $6 million budget deficit, which the former business manager may or may not have warned of in January. It's hard to say because the current powers that be say the numbers aren't accurate, but I doubt that.
The letter, dated Jan. 9, states that a “very preliminary review” of the budget reveals that the district will need to cut expenditures by approximately $5.9 million.
The district also imposed a hiring freeze.
“There’s not much you can do when you’re in the middle of the school year,” [board President] Detwiler said.
True enough, but another option, of course, would be to increase revenue by increasing taxes. Now, as a taxpayer (albeit not a Connellsville one), I know I speak for everyone when I say it's a plan I personally don't like. However, sometimes, it's a necessary one, as is the case in so many of our school districts. You can only cut costs so much--and this even applies to day-to-day life as individuals. You can't cut out necessities. Something is always going to cost money.
“It is not easy to find $6 million in cost savings when you consider, in context, the magnitude of this number, as it represents almost 10 percent of our entire annual budget,” Kisiel said on Wednesday.
Kisiel is a district resident and CPA, so he knows his shit. But according to the new business manager...
"It’s still up in the air, and it’s not $6 million."
And a tax increase would only raise about $360,000. I'm sure any little bit helps, but $360,000 is a far cry from the alleged $6 million needed. And even then, the school board would still have to approve a tax increase. And no matter how much it may be needed or how much a district might be in the hole, school boards (understandably) don't like tax increases...especially if they're going after re-elecetion. But the way I see it, a district's got to do what a district's go to do if it needs money. Again, cost-cutting will only get you so far.

The school board will meet to discuss the budget on May 26 at 7 p.m. A preliminary budget must be passed by May 31.

Godspeed, Connellsville business manager and school board.

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