Clearfield School Board Updated on Budget Outlook

CLEARFIELD – At Monday night’s committee meeting, the Clearfield school board was brought up to date on its budget outlook by Business Administrator Sam Maney.

Maney said he originally projected the district to end the current school year with a $1.1 million deficit. He said most of the revenue is booked now, and there is about $180,000 in additional revenue.

He said he’s also gone through the expenditures and the final payroll for June. And if it’s comparable to prior years, there might be another $240,000 in savings.

He said the district isn’t at its projected figure yet due to having another month’s worth of expenses and accounts payable. Plus, it must also pay the balance of $200,000 for its STEM classroom.

Still, Maney said expenses are approaching $1.3 million, and he’d previously estimated $1.8 million. “So, there’s possibly about a half-million savings yet.

“I don’t know that we can close the gap completely and get to zero. I do think we can get the [deficit] down to between a quarter- to half-million.”

The proposed 2019-20 budget calls for $42,939,457 in expenditures, which Maney said is a 1.16 percent increase over last year, and $39,215,924 in revenues.

He said it still included the 3-mill tax increase, which would generate a small dent of about $389,541 toward its projected $3.7 million deficit.

Superintendent Terry Struble said the district would have to make “significant” cuts to its courses, programs and staff to eliminate expenses and close the gap, which he doesn’t believe in or recommend.

“We are trying to control the expense side as much as we can,” he said, “and with cuts that would need to be made to eliminate the deficit, we wouldn’t operate school the same as we do today.”

As teachers and staff retire or depart, he said the district will continue to review whether or not it can absorb the position(s) or classroom(s).

Struble also pointed out that the district’s Public School Employees Retirement payments in 2008-09 were $749,000, and in 2017-18, its PSERS payments were $4,803,000.

“So, in 10 years, there was an increase by over $4 million in retirement,” he said, adding: “it’s not the board’s decision and it’s no Clearfield taxpayer’s responsibility.

“It was created by the legislature’s change in the retirement formula, then it was passed off onto school districts … when it comes to unfunded mandates, that’s a huge one.”

Struble and Maney noted that Clearfield – like other school districts across the commonwealth – is struggling with costs as related to PSERS and cyber-charter tuition.

Struble said if the district wanted to close its budget deficit, it would have to come with very difficult decisions because it wasn’t a matter of turning off the lights and cutting back on paper usage.

Board member Tim Morgan said the district really needed to pursue methods to keep students in its own cyber program to save a significant amount of money.

He also suggested it look at its capital fund program and perhaps stretch out its projects. He said he hadn’t changed his mind on the tax increase, just wanted “tweaks” to make things last longer.

The board will vote on its general and subsidiary fund budgets next week. The capital projects fund is proposed in the amount of $1,029,000 and the cafeteria fund in the amount of $1,543,166.

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