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Waynesboro school board OKs budget that cuts programs, raises taxes

June 30, 2011|By JENNIFER FITCH | waynesboro@herald-mail.com

WAYNESBORO, Pa. — With hours before the start of a new fiscal year, the Waynesboro Area School Board Thursday night passed a $49.9 million budget with cuts to art, family and consumer science, health and physical education, social studies, business education and German programs.

The school board started deliberations on its 2011-12 spending plan with an estimated $2.6 million budget gap. It whittled down that deficit over the past few months, eventually settling on cuts, a transfer from savings and an 1.41-mill property tax increase.

A mill represents $1 of every $1,000 of assessed property value. School district officials say each mill costs the average property owner $17, so that person would have a $23.97 increase on his or her bill for the coming year.

The mill rate now stands at 85.5 mills overall.

The 2011-12 budget decreases spending about $1.3 million from what was approved for 2010-11. District officials have said they are contending with slumping revenues, largely due to expired federal stimulus funds and an effort by the governor to revert basic education funding to 2008-09 levels.

School board members said Thursday night that they were awaiting word on whether Gov. Tom Corbett would sign the budget passed this week by the Pennsylvania General Assembly. In that version of the state budget, the school district stands to receive $413,000 more than what it first anticipated months ago, although it still faces funding cuts.

Business Administrator Caroline Dean told the board it can shift money in its budget around for several months after the overall spending authority is set.

“We can certainly talk about options for what to put back into the budget or take out,” Schools Superintendent James Robertson said.

“When are those decisions going to be made?” asked board member K. Marilyn Smith.

Board member Bonnie Bachtell echoed Smith’s question and said she’s concerned about recalling some teachers who have been furloughed.

“Some people may find other jobs. Some people are good people who I’d like to see come back,” she said.

Board President Ed Wilson said he doesn’t want to make decisions regarding the $413,000 until Corbett signed the bill.

Board member Pat Heefner asked that the members hold a special meeting for adjustments once the state’s spending plan is finalized.

The Waynesboro Area School Board budget vote passed 7-1, with only Smith voting “no.”

“I don’t feel comfortable the way it stands right now. I was hoping we could make some decisions on the extra money,” she said.

Voting in favor were Wilson, Heefner, Bachtell, Firmadge Crutchfield, Leland Lemley, Billie Finn and Chris Lind, although Heefner and Bachtell mentioned they would’ve preferred taxes be raised 2.41 mills. Board member Sherry Cline was absent.

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