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Tuscarora School District braces for state budget numbers

March 07, 2011|By ROXANN MILLER | roxann.miller@herald-mail.com

MERCERSBURG, Pa. — — The Tuscarora School Board is bracing itself to make some of the toughest budget decisions it has had to make in decades when Gov. Tom Corbett unveils Pennsylvania’s 2011-12 budget Tuesday.

With the state facing a $4 billion shortfall, the governor is expected to make deep cuts, and education is not exempt.

At Monday’s board meeting, board President Clifford Smith said the district could receive $1.1 million to $1.4 million less in state money, depending on whether Corbett goes back to 2007-08 figures or those from 2005-06.

He said health care costs are expected to increase $1.1 million in 2011-12, coupled with a $645,000 salary increase for teachers, per the district contract.

“We have some very difficult times ahead,” Smith said.
The district will stay within the Act 1 tax cap of 1.8 percent or 1.9 mills, but Smith said the board is still faced with balancing its $32 million budget.

“We have offered retirement incentives to avoid the dreaded furlough decisions. But no decisions have been made until we get the budget numbers,” Smith said.

Board member Daryl Hunsberger said “some of the cuts are very deep,” but the board is taking pains not to negatively impact students or their education.

Mercersburg resident Bill Landis requested a work session so the public could be included in budget discussions.
But the board said “no,” choosing to unveil its plan at an April 25 town meeting.

“I feel we have an attainable answer. We are not in a crisis,” Hunsberger said. “I think everything needs to be presented at the town meeting in a PowerPoint (presentation) and then if we need a work session, that’s fine.”

“We are all in this together,” Smith said. “It will be a struggle, but we will overcome.”

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