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Waynesboro school board works on slashing budget deficit

April 27, 2010|By JENNIFER FITCH
  • James Robertson
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WAYNESBORO, Pa. - The Waynesboro Area School Board spent almost two hours Tuesday continuing to negotiate its 2010-11 budget, with more than half of the meeting time spent in a closed-doors session discussing personnel.

Board member Chris Lind told Superintendent James Robertson he wants to see details on how the superintendent plans to save $490,000 in personnel costs.

"Personally, I think we need to see your Plan B. I know it's going to be challenging, but, again, I think next year is going to be equally as bad," board member Billie Finn said, urging Robertson to present a balanced budget.

The board started budget negotiations with an anticipated deficit of $1.7 million. It has made no final decisions about what to cut for the coming year, but accepting everything presented for elimination or reduction would lower the deficit to $425,000.

Up for discussion are eliminating elementary school Spanish, re-aligning some sports teams, reducing support and professional staff, and requiring students to purchase or rent their own graduation caps and gowns.

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The deficit could be expanded to more than $700,000 if the board decides not to dip into its medical reserve fund as planned. Approximately $300,000 from that fund was going to be dedicated to medical premiums, Business Administrator Caroline Dean said.

The board is debating whether to ask families to buy school supplies for students. Robertson said the district could save $8,000 by starting the policy at the elementary level.

He suggested collecting a per-student fee and using the money to buy supplies in bulk at a discount.

"If the school provides (supplies), at least that part will be equal among students. I personally feel it's the community's responsibility to fund those basic needs," high school teacher Mike Engle said.

The board unanimously passed a resolution asking the Pennsylvania Department of Education for permission to eliminate the elementary Spanish program. Robertson said the resolution does not cut the program, only initiates the process by which it could be eliminated later.

"We have to go through the steps to get permission to do it," he said.

The board scheduled a meeting for 6 p.m. Tuesday to further debate the budget.

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