The Riverview School Board and district administration continued to crunch numbers and discuss cost-saving measures in an attempt to balance next school year's budget.
With the current expenditures in the $17.9 million budget, district business manager Frank Thompson said officials are looking at a 0.6386-mill real estate tax increase.
The state index limits the district to a 0.5205-mill increase. However, the district received approval from the state for two exceptions to the Act 1 index. The state allows for districts to apply for tax exceptions to help alleviate costs outside of the districts' control, for example rising pension or special education costs—Riverview now can raise taxes to receive an extra $148,000 for pension costs and an extra $47,000 for special education costs.
With those exceptions granted, Riverview could raise taxes by up to 0.67 mills.
Thompson said it is impossible to add all the items on the wish lists of some administrators—an additional elementary instructor at Tenth Street, the addition of a custodian at Verner, the payment for AP exams at the high school level and an increase of $45,000 in the technology equipment budget.
"Eventually, it puts us over the index plus exceptions, and we're not allowed to do that," he said.
Superintendent Chuck Erdeljac said administrators have discussed other cost-saving measures in personnel due to declining enrollment.
"These are not recommendations at this point," he said."As enrollment goes down, we want the board to know we are at least asking the tough questions and looking at this. It was almost like cutting ourselves to list these."
Some of the positions being reviewed by administration are:
- A Verner Elementary special education position—Erdeljac said this made it to the list because the position was vacated earlier this year when someone resigned and there hasn't been a need to fill it yet. However, he said previous conversations have indicated that special needs staff will be needed. "We're still looking at that," Erdeljac said.
- A guidance counselor—Erdeljac said two counselor positions have been added over the last 10 years. "It's a bit of an irony because we've never been doing more through our guidance department than we are now," he said. Some of those programs include school-wide positive behavior, bully prevention and student assistance.
- Two paraprofessional positions—Two paraprofessionals have been moved to other positions within the district, and officials are looking into whether or not to fill them again. However, Erdeljac said there might be a need to fill one because a student who has visual limitations will be joining the district next school year.
- School nurses—The state code says school districts must supply once school nurse for every 1,500 students served in its attendance area, according to Erdeljac. "We are well under the 1,500 limit," he said. "But it seems we have more children with prescriptions that must be kept with the nurse."
Low Class Enrollment
Class enrollment at the high school might also be something to look at, Erdeljac said. Of the 130-plus courses offered at the high school, about 25 have very low enrollment. Some of those classes include the higher level language courses—French, Spanish, Latin, Chinese—Accounting, AP Computer Science, International Relations and Robotics.
Suggestions include combining some of the high-level courses with lower levels.
There currently is $2.2 million in the district's fund balance. The cost of several projects will be coming out of the fund. Those projects include:
- $310,000 for the locker room renovation at the high school
- $70,000 for a cooler and freezer at the high school
- $7,700 for air conditioning at Verner
If officials choose to add more projects, such as band uniforms, classroom doors at Verner, carpeting at the high school, sidewalk and concrete repairs at Tenth street, playground gates at Tenth Street and windows at the high school, the fund balance will be reduced to about $1.6 million.
Erdeljac asked the board to look over the presented information before the May 14 budget session. It will be held at 7 p.m. at the administrative offices on Tenth Street. A proposed preliminary budget will be passed on May 21. The final budget will be passed at the end of June.
School Board President John Hackworth said officials have not made any decisions regarding the budget, but are considering the many different options presented.
"This is a process, not a decision," he said.
"Most school districts in Pennsylvania are going through the same thing," he said. "We're not alone in this. This truly is a continuing process, and we will revisit this May 14."