Parkland Passes Budget With 3.67 Percent Tax Increase
The $137.8 million budget includes program and staff cuts and comes in at $460,067 less than last year's budget.
The Parkland school board unanimously approved a $137.8 million budget Tuesday night that raises taxes 3.67 percent, freezes teachers' salaries and cuts 60 teacher and staff positions.
The district's millage will increase 1.46 mills, from 39.73 mills to 41.19 mills.
That means a homeowner with a property assessed at the district average of $76,912 (half the market value) would pay $3,168 in property taxes, or $112 more than this year.
Superintendent Richard Sniscak and Business Administration Director John Vignone said the district faced challenges, and uncertainties, in preparing the budget, including less state funding for school programs.
The district also has cited other revenue losses, including from assessment appeals and the Allentown Neighborhood Improvement Zone, which is expected to divert $200,000 in earned income tax money from the district to the arena project and other city development this year. Officials said the amount could be higher in subsequent years.
The overall 2012-2013 school year budget is $460,067 less than last year's budget. To get there, Sniscak said, "There was a lot of sacrifice and tough decisions made along the way."
As part of the months-long process, the district:
* Eliminated 33 support staff positions, 24 teaching positions and three administrative positions, mostly through attrition. Those cuts brought a savings of $3.4 million, the district said.
* Reached an early bird contract with the teachers union that freezes teachers' salaries for the 2012-2013 school year.
* Reduced bus runs, for $240,000 in transportation savings.
* Reduced supplies 10 percent.
* Reduced intramural and athletic programs by $110,000.
* Used $3.3 milion of the district fund balance.
* Refinanced bonds, at a 1.3 million savings.
Among the cut programs was the Space Shuttle Blake, which earned Parkland recognition for its unique approach to teaching students math and science. The district will continue to house the Blake, a mobile learning classroom that looks like a space shuttle, at the Schnecksville elementary school as it looks for a new home for it.
Under the contract:
* District administrators, who took a pay freeze for the 2011-2012 school year, will receive a 2.5 percent pay raise.
* Confidential secretaries will receive a flat $2,000 pay increase.
* Support staff, who are in the final year of a five-year contract, will receive a 4.95 percent raise. (The district and Parkland Education Support Professionals Association were in talks to re-negotiate the last year of the contract but did not reach an agreement. The association president has said the unit was receptive to a wage freeze but talks broke down over non-economic issues related to job security.)
Approving the 2012-2013 budget were board President Jayne Bartlett, and board members Roberta Marcus, David Kennedy, Lisa Adams, Robert Bold, Robert Cohen and Mark Hanichak. Board members Barry Long and Jef Reyburn were not at the meeting.