2010-05-13 / Local & State

Forbes Road Approves Tentative 2010-11 Budget

Finances dominate board agenda
By Jean Snyder STAFF WRITER

Finances dominated the Forbes Road School Board’s agenda last Monday evening as directors discussed both their school’s budget for 2010-11 as well as the Area Vocational Technical School (AVTS) budget.

Budgets

The board adopted its tentative balanced budget that sets both spending and revenues at $7,387,291. Approval was given on an 8-1 vote, with Kirby Shoemaker dissenting. Although the board held a general discussion on the budget, there was no discussion of setting the millage rate for 2010-11. Final adoption of the budget and tax rates will be on June 7.

As part of the budget discussion, Acting Superintendent Fred Foster read a letter from the state Senate leadership advising all of the school districts of the state’s changing financial position. The letter noted that the estimated revenue shortfall has grown from $450 million to an estimated $1 billion. The letter went on to say that because of this shortfall, there is no guaranteed level of funding for any of the school districts in the 2010- 11 state budget.

Foster told the “News,” “Our projected 2010-11 budget shows actual revenue at $6,943,630 and expenses at $7,387,291, a $443,661 shortfall. 1 mill in our district brings in $67,110 and our index is 1.4 so this would bring in $94,760.”

“So,” he noted, “even if we were to raise taxes to the index we would still be short. We will balance out the budget pulling money from our fund balance. With the economy the way it has been, the last thing we want to do is raise taxes, but that doesn’t appear likely and the board has worked hard to review the budget and prioritize district needs. Our revenue is about $400,000 less than last year, which also has an impact.”

“Our options include no mill increase and transfer $443,661 from fund balance, 1 mill increase and transfer $376,551 from fund balance, or 1.4 increase (index) and transfer $348,901 from our fund balance. Our concern is the amount that is needed to transfer from fund balance in about two years we would be in a financial crisis. We will certainly keep an eye on spending and costs, and at this time we are not 100 percent sure of our funding from the state.”

The board also held discussion on the AVTS budget. A motion and second to approve the AVTS budget of $885,836 failed on a 0-9 vote which was followed by a motion to have Joint Operating Committee members ask at the next meeting that support and administrative staff increases be removed from the final AVTS budget. That motion passed on a 9-0 vote. Foster explained that the board does not support any raises in these times of economic stress.

Finances

During other financial business, the board voted to retain Fred Gutshall as school solicitor at $115 per hour and $140 per trip. The directors also voted to retain Boyer and Ritter as local auditors for an audit of all financial statements for the year ending June 30, 2010. The firm will be paid $18,950 for the audit.

The board voted to retain F&M Trust as the school depository for the 2010-11 school year.

Robert Figard was approved to transport for athletic trips for the 2010-11 school year at the rate of $1.72 per mile and a layover amount of $7.25 per hour.

Personnel

Other appointments made for the upcoming 2010-11school year included: the retention of Deonna Carmack as board treasurer; the retention of Phil Wilson as school psychologist at $14,000 for the school year; and the addition of Garrett Fix, Betsy Clippinger, Josiah Newman, Anthony Zumpetta and Rachel Leese to the teacher substitute list. In the same motion, the board agreed to transfer a balance of 15.5 sick days for Eric Rubenstein as verified by his previous employer. Carmack abstained from voting on the motion.

Curriculum

During a discussion of curriculum issues, the board approved the following field trips: Forbes Road Library Club to Barnes and Noble in Altoona on May 12 at a cost of $90 for a substitute teacher; 45-50 students, grades 3-6, to an Altoona Curve baseball game on May 20 as a reward for Book-It; a high school end-of-year trip to Kennywood Park on May 21; and on May 24, 85 students (grades K-2) will travel to Bedford Elks for bowling as a Book-It reward.

The board also approved a summer reading program from 6/16-7/21 every Wednesday from 9:00 a.m. to noon.

A motion to approve an amended resolution regarding the Tuscarora Blended Learning charter school passed. The resolution changes the focus of the school to only grades 7 through 12.

General business

During the meeting, the board was also apprised that the baseball field fence is up and has received favorable comments from opposing teams. Elementary school Principal Byron Helsel reported that May 27-28 will be grandparents’ day at the school. Fred Foster updated the board on efforts to cut costs at the school. He said he has met with retirees about the Signature 65 health insurance program, is looking at savings on the telephone bill and announced that a Safety Committee has been meeting monthly to be eligible for a 5 percent reduction in workmen’s compensation costs. The board voted to terminate the Highmark Blue Shield Signature 65 Plan/Group effective June 30, 2010. Foster indicated that other insurance options are being explored.

The board approved the list of potential 2010 graduates pending completion of graduation requirements.

Anita Bolinger and Helman Busing were approved to purchase one to two new buses as presented. The board approved the use of the baseball field on Sunday afternoons from May 9-August 31 for adult baseball recreation and, finally, the board approved Forbes Road hosting next year’s Szwydek Memorial 5K race on April 16, 2011.

A 45-minute executive session to discuss personnel and negotiations was held, and the board reported that no action was taken.

A special school board meeting for general purposes will be held on May 24 at 7:00 p.m. at the school.

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