Tuscarora faces budget woes next year

February 14, 2011|By ROXANN MILLER |

MERCERSBURG, Pa. — With Tuscarora School District expecting to get $1.25 million less in state funding next year, nothing is safe from the chopping block — not even teaching positions, officials said Monday night.

“We’ll look across the board at staffing, athletics, pay-to-play (increasing athletic fees),” Superintendent Rebecca Erb said. “The main part of the budget is staffing.”

At Monday’s board meeting, Erb said the school board is trying to find alternatives to cutting teaching positions such as offering early retirement incentives.

“We want to minimize the reduction in force of our professional staff. I’ve never had to do something like this in my career. I’ve never had to lay anyone off, and I think I will this year,” said Erb.

The district is looking at a $32 million budget for 2011-12.

Right now, the state is facing a $4 billion budget deficit and is resetting the revenue it gives to state school districts back to 2007-08 figures.

“This is not going to be an easy process,” said Clifford Smith, board president. “Faced with losing $1.25 million in funding from the state and without a way to replace it is going to be tough.”

Board member Guy Hollenshead said there needs to be a halt to new hires.

“Every month we seem to be hiring new positions. We’ve got to cut down on these new positions — that’s a budget killer,” Hollenshead said.

At a previous meeting, board members voted to stay within the 1.93 mill tax cap stipulated by the state. So, the district can’t raise taxes beyond the cap.

At the March meeting, Erb is slated to make suggestions on cuts to the board.

“When you have to balance a budget, you have to make hard decisions,” Erb said.

The budget must be finalized in June.

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