Posted January 27, 2015
Preliminary Budget Approved by School Board on January 26, 2015
Parkland Approves Preliminary Budget Under Act 1
Filing of “Exceptions” Also Approved
As part of Act 1 legislative requirements, a Preliminary General Fund Budget for the 2016-17 school year in the amount of $167,816,469 was approved by the Parkland Board of School Directors during the regularly scheduled Board meeting on Tuesday, January 26, 2016. Approval of a Preliminary Budget in January is a required step in the Pennsylvania Public School District Budget Planning Process that allows school districts to exceed the Act 1 index (tax increase set forth by the state) by applying for exceptions. This number does not equate to the final budget that will be brought forth for adoption in June.
The Preliminary Budget represents a 6.43% increase over last year’s budget expenses. The District stressed, however, that in order to legally adopt a budget in June, it must bring the millage increase down to 3.6%, the projected cap inclusive of the Act 1 Index plus exceptions described below.
Also approved this evening was permission for Parkland to file for “exceptions” designed by the State to help districts pay for costs outside of their control. If approved, the exceptions will allow Parkland to raise taxes above the state mandated Act 1 Index of 2.4%. Parkland plans to file for exceptions related to escalating special education costs and fixed distributions to the Public School Employees’ Retirement System – both mandated by the state. With approval of exceptions, the District estimates that it can raise taxes up to approximately 3.6% with School Board approval in June. In other words, the Exceptions amount that the District hopes to receive approval on is projected to equate to a 1.2% tax increase.
The state budget impasse is a concern that continues to create an unprecedented amount of uncertainty and makes it hard to predict 2016-17 state funding. Without this critical piece of information, Parkland must make every effort to protect budget priorities at this early stage of the budget process.
The School Board voted in December to approve a redistricting effort needed to handle the projected growth in the southwest portion of the school district. The costs associated with the redistricting effort are projected to be about $500,000. In January, the School Board voted to approve the transition from offering a half-day kindergarten program to a full-day program for the start of the 2016-17 school year, a move that will help the District achieve the goal of getting all third graders to read proficiently by the end of third grade. The costs associated with starting that program are estimated to be $2.7M. A tax increase will be required to bring about both programs.
Superintendent Richard T. Sniscak noted, “This is a starting point for a Preliminary Budget at a time when so many unknowns exist. Even as we predict conservatively what funding streams will be, we are still finding it difficult to balance our budget under the required cap. We could not, by law, pass the preliminary budget in its current form in June as we are only permitted to increase taxes by the Act 1 index assigned to Parkland plus any approved exceptions. Therefore, the administration and the Board will continue to work to bring a projected tax impact of 3.6% to reality.”
Upcoming important dates in the budget planning process:
May 5, 2016 – Budget Seminar
May 24, 2016 – Proposed Final budget goes before the Board for approval
June 13, 2016 – Final Proposed Budget mailed to all taxpayers in the Parkland School District newsletter
June 28, 2016 – Final Budget goes before the Board for approval