ROARING SPRING - The Spring Cove School District is facing a budget deficit for next school year with the possibility looming for "a variety of cuts," Superintendent Rodney Green said Monday.
Even if the district would have asked the state for permission to raise its millage above a predetermined limit, it wouldn't help much, Green said. The school board voted 6-2 not to ask the state for the option to raise the limit from 2.059 mills to 4.399 mills.
"We're going to have a deficit budget even with 4.399 [mills]," Green said. "For us, a mill is not that much of an increase. One mill is not that large of an amount, maybe $68,000, maybe less."
The deficit will be the result of the incoming administration of Gov.-elect Tom Corbett, who has already promised a 10 percent cut in the state budget, Green said.
"Some of it has to come out of education," Green said, adding that the district has seen significant losses, specifically in special education funding.
Budget savings could involve program changes, retirement savings and some position cuts, Green said.
"We're in a very, very serious and unique budgetary process," he said.
Staffing takes up more than 70 percent of the district budget and employee layoffs is "one area we're looking at," Green said.
Board members James Butler and vice president Sam Dean supported having the option of upping the maximum millage, which would mean an additional $170,000 for the district.
Voting against the option were board members William Replogle, Amy Acker-Knisely, John Biddle, president Julie Mills, Harold Brennecke and Charlene Dodson. Jennifer Murnyack-Garner was absent from the meeting.
"It's not saying that we fully intend to call upon those exceptions," Butler said of the potential for surpassing the limit due to increasing special education and retirement costs.
The board also opted to file for a state exemption in 2006.
While briefly reviewing a 60-page financial analysis of the school district, CPA Randy Ritchey of Ritchey, Ritchey & Koontz highlighted the $3.7 million estimated to be left over from the district's general fund expenses, about 16 percent of the $24 million budget or two months' worth of cash flow.
"It seems like a fair and reasonable amount to have on reserve," Ritchey said.
About $23 million was spent last year between the new elementary school costs, athletic fields, maintenance and improvements, Ritchey said.
As part of the pending budget discussions, Green reviewed the district's curriculum changes that have occurred since 2007.
The district has added about 20 programs during the last four years including an accelerated reader program for kindergarten through sixth grade and eighth-grade art enrichment. Eliminated programs included the 21st Century after-school program for third through sixth grades and Central High School electives such as SAT Prep.
"You can't keep adding," Green said. "Some things have to be taken out. We subtract when it makes sense."
Mirror Staff Writer Wendy Zook is at 946-7520.