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Board makes little progress in budget talks

May 13, 2009|By JENNIFER FITCH

WAYNESBORO, Pa. - The Waynesboro Area School Board's plan to adopt a final budget for 2009-10 on June 23 means tax bills will be distributed late, the district's business administrator said Tuesday.

Caroline Dean discussed the budget timeline with the board, saying that adopting a final budget close to the state's June 30 deadline means tax bills cannot be printed in time for their typical July 1 distribution.

The board plans to adopt a $50 million preliminary budget Tuesday, then make it available for public review for 30 days as required by the state.

Board members set aside two hours to discuss the budget this week, but, in the end, did not provide the administration with anymore cuts they want to see. Their only request was for any updates on the status of state funding.

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Tensions further strained during the work session, with Board President K. Marilyn Smith calling for a break at one point when voices had been raised. When the possibility of additional meetings this week was debated, board member Chris Devers responded he wouldn't take off more work for the same "gibberish."

Board member Ed Wilson summed up Tuesday's meeting as "same as the last four - very little accomplished."

The projected budgetary deficit has been lowered to $820,946, approximately a $100,000 improvement from the previous week due to new administrative suggestions. Those were reducing natural gas allowances, reducing communications costs and eliminating a fourth-grade teaching position at Mowrey Elementary School when a teacher retires.

A potential major problem for the board is a Pennsylvania Senate proposal that would keep basic education funding at the 2008-09 rate. Dean had budgeted an $800,000 increase thanks to stimulus funds.

"It really scares me that we won't have a balanced budget (as is) and potentially have a (state funding) shortfall," Wilson said.

On Tuesday, the board heard from Bob Whitmore of Manito Inc. alternative education and Mike Kugler, who supervises district technology.

Whitmore shared how the facility on Brown's Mill Road, Antrim Township, provides educational and therapeutic services for disruptive and violent students.

Thirty-one Waynesboro students are enrolled in that program, and another 20 students are enrolled in the "alternative high school" to earn graduation credits rather than drop out, he said.

Kugler talked about the Power School system rejected by the school board last year. The system would manage student data and allow parents to check students' academic progress.

The system would cost $18,666 a year to maintain, Kugler said, but it would replace an aging system and much of the paperwork sent home.

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