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Wyalusing School Budget by the Numbers

The 2011-12 budget for the Wyalusing Area School District is clearly a work in progress, and the work that needs to be done is daunting. At their work session on Monday, March 28, (See, "Wyalusing Board") the school board decided to slow down, backing off any imminent deadlines, and work on resolving their budget crisis with all parties who may be affected.

Budget expenditures reported as of March 15 totaled almost $21.8 million, with revenues of a little more than $19.5 million anticipated. The deficit between those two numbers comes to just under $2.27 million, although that is already being whittled down. But whittling is not good enough. They'll need to chop off some significant chunks.

That deficit includes factoring in a tax increase of .72 mils, the so-called index (actually reduced from the allowed 1.9 percent due to refinancing a bond issue). Anything more than that would have to be approved via a voters' referendum. The conventional wisdom is that voters will not approve a tax increase no matter how dire the situation seems to be. Also included in the calculations are the retirements of one teacher, three aides and a cafeteria employee, none of which will be replaced. Without a salary freeze, the district's numbers show, it could mean furloughing two more teachers and three more aides to lop off another $230,500.

It even takes into account savings that will emanate from consolidation, including decreases in travel costs and cutting the number of head teachers.

Health coverage continues to rise and will increase by 10 percent in the next budget. Total dollar increase in employee benefits comes to almost $234,000, according an expense comparison provided by Acting Business Manager Donna Repsher, and there is a huge increase in money to be paid to the Intermediate Unit (BLaST) for services that more than double in the next budget compared to the current one— $296,704 to $687,473. The dollar increase from the next budget (2011-12) from the current one is given at $877,528, and the current one will conclude with an actual deficit of about $630,000.

Local funding now provides 42 percent of the revenue sources for the district, with the state and federal contributions dropping to 54 and four percent, respectively.

Combined local tax revenue, as it now stands, will increase by 11.21 percent, or $744,266, between the two budgets. The total estimated tax revenue for 2011-12 is $7,384,635. Money collected for delinquent taxes has gone up a healthy 30.1 percent, if you consider people paying their taxes late healthy. That's $128,502 more than the current budget year.

Revenue from state sources has, as everyone knows by now, taken a steep dive to all Pennsylvania school districts. The cut in the Basic Instructional Subsidy alone will be $467,697, or almost seven percent. Another major loss will be about $150,000 in extra grants.

In previous years, there have been gloomy prognoses about what is coming from the state, but Superintendent Ray Fleming is not counting on any happy surprises this time.

"We're going to have to go into the fund balance to some extent to balance this budget," Fleming said.

They will pay off that $630,000 deficit with the fund balance, and a fund balance that once approached $5 million will dip toward $3 million.

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