School board ad­ver­tises pro­posed 2014-15 bud­get

The Times Herald (Norristown, PA) - - LOCAL - By BREN­DAN WILLS

WORCES­TER — The Methac­ton school board Tues­day ap­proved the ad­ver­tise­ment of the dis­trict’s pro­posed 20142015 pre­lim­i­nary bud­get.

Stewart White­leather, Methac­ton’s di­rec­tor of busi­ness ser­vices, gave a de­tailed pre­sen­ta­tion of the pro­posed pre­lim­i­nary bud­get for the 2014-2015 fis­cal year. With­out an­nounce­ments from state and fed­eral of­fi­cials re­gard­ing pub­lic ed­u­ca­tion fund­ing for next year, the pro­posed pre­lim­i­nary bud­get is full of es­ti­mates, ac­cord­ing to White­leather.

“I fully ex­pect that there will be a sig­nif­i­cant change from what was ini­tially pre­sented,” he said.

As it stands now, ex­pen­di­tures for next year are es­ti­mated to in­crease by $4 mil­lion com­pared with this year’s bud­get, White­leather said. Half of those in­creases can be at­trib­uted to Methac­ton’s em­ployer con­tri­bu­tion costs in the Penn­syl­va­nia School Em­ployee’s Re­tire­ment Sys­tem.

This year, PSERS an­nounced an em­ployer con­tri­bu­tion rate in­crease from 16.9 per­cent to 21.4 per­cent for the 2014-2015 fis­cal year, which ac­counts for $2 mil­lion of Methac­ton’s ex­pen­di­ture in­creases, White­leather said. Other ex­pen­di­ture in­creases can be at­trib­uted to char­ter schools and spe­cial ed­u­ca­tion fund­ing, he added. Next year’s rev­enue is ex­pected to only in­crease by $1.5 mil­lion if tax in­creases are left out of the equa­tion, leav­ing the pro­posed pre­lim­i­nary bud­get with an es­ti­mated $3 mil­lion deficit, White­leather said. White­leather pre­dicted that come June, the deficit will not be re­flected in the fi­nal bud­get, once the ac­tual num­bers for state and fed­eral fund­ing are re­leased, and the pre­lim­i­nary bud­get is ad­justed. Bet­ter esti- mates for lo­cal rev­enues will also be­come avail­able be­tween now and June, he said.

“Un­for­tu­nately, tax in­creases are re­ally the only way to in­crease dol­lars into the dis­trict,” White­leather said.

Ac­cord­ing to the pro­posed pre­lim­i­nary bud­get, the al­low­able tax in­crease for Methac­ton un­der Penn­syl­va­nia’s Act 1 is 2.1 per­cent.

Be­sides ap­prov­ing the ad­ver­tise­ment of the pre­lim­i­nary bud­get the board also ap­proved the ap­pli­ca­tion for ex­cep­tions to Act 1 re­gard­ing PSERS and spe­cial ed­u­ca­tion, which that would al­low the dis­trict to raise the tax in­crease above the Act 1 in­dex with­out voter ref­er­en­dum. The pro­posed pre­lim­i­nary bud­get can be found on the Methac­ton web­site un­der the com­mu­nity re­sources tab.

Res­i­dents who at­tended Tues­day’s meet­ing were wel­comed by a brassensem­ble per­for­mance by Methac­ton fac­ulty mem­bers Jon Hum­mel, Brian Leonard, Bret Mas­caro, Jeff McCoach and Michele Sin­nott. Be­fore any board pre­sen­ta­tions or ac­tion items were heard, first-grade stu­dents from the dis­trict’s ele­men­tary schools pre­sented board mem­bers with cer­tifi­cates of recog­ni­tion for their ser­vice to the com­mu­nity. Brave first-graders Owen Blamey, Alisha Khapre, Matthew Ni­col­son, Olivia Chaya and Do­minic Carfagno ap­proached the front of the room and shook hands with board mem­bers.

Fol­low­ing the pre­sen­ta­tion of cer­tifi­cates, the board be­gan a meet­ing that lasted more than three hours be­cause of the added items from last week’s work ses­sion, which was can­celed due to the snow.

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