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Abington School Board Approves Budget, No Tax Hike

Superintendent: 'I think we accomplished the [school board's] goals'

 

The Abington School Board last night approved the district’s 2012-13 budget; there will be no tax increase.

The board unanimously passed the $133.47 million budget; the budget is up 4.55 percent over the 2011-12 installment, but the millage rate stays at 27.80.

That means a home assessed at $141,000 will pay $3,920 annually. And, if you register with the state as a homestead, you’ll see a flat reduction of your tax bill to the tune of $205 — regardless of the assessed value of your home.

“There have been no cuts in programming, no pay-to-play, no decreases in any way — frankly, there have been some increases — all while having a 0 percent increase for the third year in a row,” Abington School District Superintendent Amy Sichel said. “So we think we accomplished the [school board’s] goals and we are very comfortable in moving forward to July 1.”

The school district could have raised taxes by 1.7 percent, according to the Pennsylvania Department of Education’s Act 1 index.

In the last five years, school district tax increases have been under 2 percent, according to Abington School District Business Administrator Chris Lionetti.

There were slight adjustments to the state and federal contribution figures in the final budget compared to the proposed final budget.

And the biggest budget item increase year-to-year is the amount the school district will pay into the Public School Employees’ Retirement System (PSERS). That figure is up 24 percent over the 2011-12 budget (or $3.18 million) to about $16.52 million. The state pays for about half of the district’s mandated benefits, which explains the increase in state funding — it’s up about $1.49 million over last year’s budget (bringing the total to about $17.81 million), Lionetti explained.

About $10.17 million in allocated fund balance will cover the expense-revenue gap; that figure is down slightly compared to the proposed final budget’s figure of $10.27 million. However, the $10.17 million figure is $4.58 million more than the allocated fund balance for the 2011-12 budget. 

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Of note: The district gets about 70 percent of its $133.47 million budget (about $94 million) from local real estate taxes; salaries are up just 2.58 percent, or up $1.89 million, to $75.23 million; mandated benefits are up a relatively small $600,000 over last year to $12.98 million; and school board members Barry Stupine and Susan Arnhold were not at the meeting.

Victor B. Krievins June 27, 2012 at 10:44 AM
Certain jobs can be out sourced to the private sector for cost savings. Why is this not happening?
Joseph Finnick June 27, 2012 at 01:34 PM
As a teacher, not to start an argument, I am really just interested in which jobs you think should be outsourced to the private sector to make things cheaper.
Victor B. Krievins June 27, 2012 at 02:17 PM
Mr. Finnick, It would be worth a check to see what the Janitor is paid. You will be surprised and shocked. It could be provided to a private cleaning service for less money. It was already done in New Jersey. Benefits would not need to be paid and overtime would to be paid.This is only one example. It would also provide work for the private sector which we are incorrectly be told is "Fine". Private Business looks for ways to cut costs and so should any school district. It certainly would not sacrifice the quality of education which are students are obtaining. It is certainly worth a consideration.
Victor B. Krievins June 27, 2012 at 02:19 PM
Mr. Finnick, It would be worth a check to see what the Janitor is paid. You will be surprised and shocked. It could be provided to a private cleaning service for less money. It was already done in New Jersey. Benefits would not need to be paid and overtime would to be paid.This is only one example. It would also provide work for the private sector which we are incorrectly be told is "Fine". Private Business looks for ways to cut costs and so should any school district. It certainly would not sacrifice the quality of education which our students are obtaining. It is certainly worth a consideration.
Joseph Finnick June 27, 2012 at 02:36 PM
Thank you Victor. I understand your point, but respectfully disagree, not on the grounds that it wouldn't save money (it absolutely would) and wouldn't impact education (probably wouldn't) but that it would wreck the lives of people who have been working for the school district for a number of years and would require some harsh treatment (fire Woody? The kids would revolt). I understand the cost saving measures, but maybe some of that could come out of some of the more frivolous expenses the district makes first (when I went to Abington they bought TVs for every classroom and they were replaced about 8 years later with Promethean Boards, for example). In the end though, I do respect that privatizing custodial (and I'm assuming other sectors) services would lower costs, I just think there are probably easier places to cut costs that need to be looked at before taking to such a rough practice.
Victor B. Krievins June 27, 2012 at 02:57 PM
In all fairness to you teachers, should the Janitor be earning far more than a qualified teacher? Is it alright for our seniors to barely be able to pay their school taxes? The job opportunity would be provided at the private level. Other people are biting the bullet by taking pay cuts. No one is happy about it. As far as the students revolting, perhaps they would also revolt when certain programs are cut. The School District is important to the future of our Nation, however, the sky is no longer the limit when it comes to expenses. I strongly feel that the tax payers will revolt if any one dares to publish what specific costs and salaries are. Certain teachers in certain areas of education are grossly underpaid.
Joseph Finnick June 27, 2012 at 03:06 PM
I agree with most of what you say Victor (I know, shocking) and if it does come down to privatizing certain things I will understand and support this decision. I would just like to make sure that cuts can't be made in other places first so that good paying jobs can be saved. If those cuts cannot be found, I would then completely support the privatization. On another note, you can find the salaries of all employees on the board report meeting materials under "personnel." They show approval and salaries for each hire and change of status.
C2060 July 23, 2012 at 01:40 PM
I am surprised there is no tax hike. I sort of expect one! I would rather small, steady tax increases than one or two large hikes. As a tax payer-- I am 100% for supporting our schools. After all, the quality of the school district has a direct impact on my home value!

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