Posted June 26, 2013
2013-14 Final Budget Remarks by Superintendent Richard Sniscak
The time and energy our Board and administrative team devote to the budget process has significantly increased the past three years and at the same time our challenges in preparing a budget continue to mount. To maintain educational excellence that is rich in academic, athletic and arts opportunities, we strive to provide our residents with an exceptional school system that takes pride in Educating for Success and Inspiring Excellence, our District’s mission. With that being said, I am pleased to report that our General Fund Budget tax increase will be lower than the tax impact shared in May thanks to the financial stewardship of our Board of School Directors, our Administrators across the District, along with some positive signs in the local economy. However, the cost to maintain our educational commitment to excellence is a constant concern.
The flow of state dollars to school districts remains uncertain at this time. Two years ago, state legislators rolled back funding for public education to 2008-09 levels, equating to a $900,000 reduction, and have only restored $248,670 for Parkland in this year’s proposed budget.
Tax assessment appeals continue to hurt our revenue as this year alone we were projected to lose approximately $2 Million. This is on top of the approximate $5 Million in revenue we lost through assessment appeals over the past 4 years. We implemented a list of budget expenditure reductions that includes the elimination of more staff positions on top of the 100+ positions we have already eliminated over the past three years due to difficult financial circumstances.
We have all embraced these financial challenges as an opportunity for improving our productivity and efficiency through smart, innovative and divergent thinking. Again for 2013-14, we have reduced personnel, programs and expenditures to balance our budget and still provide essential elements critical to delivering a high quality education for our children. I do not wish to minimize the impact of these personnel reductions. The direct consequence, as a result of this action, will increase class size, diminish elective offerings and make it more challenging to maintain services throughout our organization.
As part of Act 1 legislative requirements, a Preliminary General Fund Budget for the 2013-14 school year in the amount of $145.7 Million was approved by the Parkland Board of School Directors during the regularly scheduled Board meeting on Tuesday, February 19, 2013. Approval of a Preliminary Budget was a mechanical step in the budget planning process and a step required by Pennsylvania public school districts that opted into the accelerated Act 1 timeline. At that time, the Preliminary Budget included a 5.82% millage increase that equated to a total millage rate of 14.36 under new reassessment calculations which values property at 100% of market value established by Lehigh County rather than the prior system which valued properties at 50% of its 1991 market value.
The 2012-2013 millage rate of 41.19 was recalculated to 13.57 due to reassessment and the 13.57 millage rate served as the starting point for our 2013-2014 budget process. Values for all properties were mailed to property owners by Lehigh County last spring.
Throughout the budget process further expenditure reductions and a more positive revenue outlook has allowed us to bring the projected 5.82% millage increase down to 1.92% which equates to 13.83 mills. This includes appropriating $4 Million of fund balance to further mitigate the tax impact. We have been working on this budget since last fall and I appreciate the efforts of the School Board who dedicate countless volunteer hours analyzing the budget over the course of the year and offer valuable input as well as our administrators who have continually been challenged to think outside the box to do more with less.
Both groups maintained a focus on our priorities amidst a very challenging environment. Our administrative team has been living with this budget daily since October when we realized we needed to make-up a budget deficit in excess of $9.5 Million. I wish to publicly recognize their diligence and exceptional skill with the budgetary process. We believe our collective professional responsibility is to bring forward a responsible budget that represents the most essential educational needs of our students while considering the economic climate.
I wish to thank the Board for their consideration of this budget recommendation as we strive to ensure that the competing interests of a high-quality educational program, and the ability of the tax-paying public to afford it, maintain a respectful balance.
Richard T. Sniscak, Superintendent of Schools
For the full press release, click here.