USC School District Granted Tax Exemptions
The state will allow the board to raise taxes by $325 per $200,000 of assessed value if they vote to do so in June.
Superintendent Patrick O'Toole told the Upper St. Clair School Board on Monday night that the Pennsylvania Department of Education approved the tax exemptions the district applied for with two minor exceptions.
In the letter the district received on Friday, the department said that the maximum amount of tax money the district can receive with the exemptions is about $2.735 million. For a homeowner of a $200,000 house, the tax increase would be equivalent to about $325.
The two slight dollar amounts the department did not approve for the district came in the pension and debt categories.
The board voted for the district to apply for the special exemptions from the state to raise property taxes beyond the Act 1 limit without having to get the tax increase approved through a voter referendum in January.
However, O'Toole and business Manager Frosina Cordisco said the referendum exemption from the state does not mean the board will have to raise taxes. The exemption only gives the board additional taxing options when they pass a budget in June.
The exemptions did not come as a surprise.
"When a school district applies for an Act 1 exception, as long as it meets the requirements of the law, the exception will be granted," the Department of Education's Press Secretary Timothy Eller told Upper St. Clair Patch in February.
District administrators are currently searching for ways to cut the projected 2012-13 budget shortfall with or without tax increases.
With the 14 retiring teachers at the end of the school year, if the board approved a .41 mill tax increase (the Act 1 limit), cut 10 professional staff members and six support staff members, the district would still be facing a $1.4 million dollar deficit, according to an example provided by Cordisco.
Therefore, administrators are researching possible programs and teachers to cut to try to balance the budget.
At the elementary level, they are looking at possibly eliminating classroom teachers and increasing class sizes, eliminating or reducing resource and support teachers, eliminating Spanish, physical education, art, music and/or library teachers, or a combination of all of the options.
At the middle school level, they are looking at eliminating or reducing resource and support teachers, eliminating or reducing expressive arts, eliminating or reducing partner teams, or a combination of all the options.
And at the high school level, the administrators are examining reducing classroom teachers and increasing class sizes, eliminating or reducing elective teachers, eliminating or reducing resource and support teachers, eliminating or reducing AP, IB and vocational classes, or a combination of all the options.
What are your thoughts on the tax exemptions granted by the state? What are your thoughts on cutting programs and teachers to balance the budget? Tell us in the comments.