Citing decreases in state funding and rising pension costs, Montoursville Area School District Superintendent Christiana Bason expressed concern, but optimism, about the district meeting a projected $2 million budget shortfall they hope to meet over the next two years.
The district faces a deficit of $2 million in the 2017-18 budget. Bason stated, “We have to look at a variety of methods that are acceptable.”
Bason spoke at a school board meeting Thursday, January 12th, 2017. Officials in lead roles in the district went before the school board and pledged to be committed to doing whatever it took to meet the budget shortfall. The school board was meeting to work on a spending plan, due June 30th, that would address the shortfall.
The school district is also suffering from lack of Federal funding that came in the form of stimulus money The funding, when awarded, was intended to offer school opportunities for upgrades, but school districts had been warned not to build ongoing programs, increases in teachers, etc., around that funding. Many school districts ignored the warnings, though it is not clear if that is the issue with the Montoursville School District.
One of the biggest hits for the school district, and for many others, is the ever increasing costs of union pensions that school districts are currently locked into.
Bason suggested that the school district’s fund balance could be used to offset some of the deficit, but the fund balance is around $700,000. Bason told the school board, “You only have two options. Raise taxes or decrease expenses. We are trying to develop some strategies.”
One possible source for saving may be in not replacing some administrative positions that are or will soon be vacant. These include two principles who will be retiring at the end of the school year and curriculum director Kim Sauers who resigned last week.