After factoring in revenue from the sale of the Dot Henry Satellite school to Ivyland Borough and the reduction of eight staff positions - four from the high school, eight from the elementary school consolidation - Centennial Business Administrator Chris Berdnik told the Centennial Finance Committee Tuesday night that the 2012-2013 projected budget deficit was now down to approximately $2.3 million.
The new projections did not include any additional revenue from Act 1 exemptions that would allow the district to raise taxes an additional 2.37 mills on top of the already projected 1.7 percent increase. A mill equals a dollar tax on every $1,000 of assessed property value.
Berdnik presented a few scenarios that would balance next year's budget. The first incorporated the Act 1 exemptions and $500,000 in other expense cuts. Another replaced the exemptions with the projected the loss of 21 additional teaching positions, primarily from the switch of the middle schools to the junior high model, plus the $500,000 in other cuts. A third scenario was a mix, adding one exemption to nine cut positions, along with the $500,000 expense cut.
As far as the members of the Centennial Finance Committee are concerned, that additional tax exemption revenue should stay removed from the projections, and the rest of the gap should be closed by expense reductions, primarily teacher cuts.
Finance Committee Chairman Michael Hartline took the request even further when he closed out the meeting with a prepared statement that called on the district to make aggressive cuts to all staffing levels.
"I am not proposing a one-year short term solution or Band-Aid to this problem," Hartline said, "but instead what I hope will be a multi-year plan that will provide a 'fix' in the interim and allow for economic conditions to recover."
Hartline said he wants to see the economic misery spread evenly throughout the district, starting with the elimination off 55 professional staffing positions, achieved through the following:
- Continuing consolidation of the elementary schools with no change in class sizes until economic conditions improve.
- Changing of the middle school curriculum as brought forth by the administration.
- Elimination of all underutilized high school classes that are not mandated by the Pennsylvania Department of Education.
Hartline also suggests eliminating 10-15 support staff positions throughout the district and studying the feasibility of reorganizing the principal/vice principal model into a more economical model.
Centennial's future financial obligations prompted Hartline to propose what he admits are seemingly Draconian cuts. He highlights in his statement that the district will have to pay an additional $1.6 million in contractual salary increases and increase its state-mandated contributions to the Public School Employees' Retirement System (PSERS) by $2.5 million, with even greater increases in 2014 and 2015.
"The administration welcomes any input, suggestions or comments from the Centennial Education Association on ways that we can, as a united organization, contain costs while striving to provide the best education for our students at the minimum expense to an economically struggline community," Hartline said, closing out his remarks.