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School Budget Discussion Planned for Wednesday

The PTA's open microphone forum this spring will focus on the Upper St. Clair School District's budget.

Every spring, the administrators and PTA members host an .

This year the focus will be on the district's budget.

Are you concerned about a potential tax increase? Do you have questions about the school budget process? If so, plan on attending the discussion from 7 to 9 p.m. on Wednesday, March 14 in the auditorium.

Superintendent Patrick O'Toole, Assistant Superintendent Sharon Suritsky and Business Manager Frosina Cordisco will be on hand to make a presentation and answer questions.

Questions should be submitted by emailing them to uscopenmike@gmail.com by Monday, March 12. Additional questions will be taken on Wednesday night, if time permits.

What questions do you hope to have answered on Wednesday night? Tell us in the comments.

PK3 March 12, 2012 at 11:37 AM
The USCSD superintendent and board are clueless. They schedule this important meeting giving the community only two business days notice. This scheduling action is either intentional or they are unaware of their constituents. In this global society they support people actually travel for work and can't reschedule their business meetings this quickly. If the USCSD doesn't reschedule this meeting providing ample time for the whole community to attend this scheduling action was intentional to get the least amount of people to attend secondly, the USCSD is trying to control this meeting by only taking submitted questions in advance. All questions should be addressed by the USCSD not just ones they want to answer. Don't let them get away with this people !!!
Becky Brindle March 12, 2012 at 01:12 PM
PK3, this meeting has been planned and posted under Patch Events for more than a month. The PTA schedules an open microphone forum every March with the district administration. This year the topic is the school budget. You could always go to the school board meetings to ask questions about the budget as well. There is a meeting tonight at 7 p.m. You can find when the other school board meetings are here: http://www.uscsd.k12.pa.us/4665115216141547/site/default.asp
Becky Brindle March 12, 2012 at 01:31 PM
Just checked back to see when it was first published and it was at 10 a.m. on Jan. 24.
Alicia Hawkins March 12, 2012 at 02:24 PM
Open mic is a PTA event, not a school board event. I have attended open mics for over 10 years and they have ALWAYS been a respectful, open discussion between the administration and parents. All attendees learn something and form a basis for working together. The event has also been advertised for some time on e-Alerts and probably advertised at PTA meetings well in advance. It would be a shame if our community has gone so far down the rabbit hole that people attempt to turn Wed. night into a forum to attack the administration and, subsequently, the event ceases to be useful. You don't have to agree with someone to have a meaningful, respectful, productive discussion. Fingers crossed.
PK3 March 12, 2012 at 03:02 PM
BB, I can't ask questions at the SB meeting becuase the SB won't answer the questions. They don't respond to questions and comments. You do a good job of defending the USCSD. why?
Becky Brindle March 12, 2012 at 03:13 PM
I was just trying to help you. The school board is not going to be present at the open microphone forum on Wednesday night—although I remember some board members being in the audience last year—and I didn't want you to think that they would be. If you want to further discuss, email me at becky.brindle@patch.com and we could set up a time to grab some coffee.
PK3 March 12, 2012 at 04:18 PM
AH, Who said anything about attacks? People should be able to ask tough questions and get honest answers. We the people don't have our questions answered at the SB meetings the SB doesn't respond to the people there. Oh just in case you don't know we are 2M budget deficit and projected even more for next year.
Alicia Hawkins March 12, 2012 at 04:49 PM
PU, Who said you couldn't ask tough questions? I will be submitting a few myself. Who said YOU were attacking? I do think words like "clueless" and baseless accusations re scheduling and notice and three excalmation points seems melodramatic and immature to me, but I didn't say that in my original post. I am well aware of the deficit issues, not sure what indicated I wasn't aware of or concerned about. I just think histrionics and ad hominem attacks are counter-productive. As you are so informed, you must know that the overarching issues are teacher salary and unfunded pension liability. As a practical matter, there are very few cuts that can meaningfully affect the budget if these two issues aren't addressed at a state level. The unfunded pension issue started under Gov. Ridge, continued under Gov. Rendell and continues under Gov. Corbett. We need state legislation reforming how teacher pensions are funded and we need state legislation re economic furloughs (i.e., allowing districts to terminate teacher who are not performing when economics require teacher lay offs and abolishing FIFO for teacher hires and terminations.) Best of luck to you and safe travels on Wed. night.
PK3 March 13, 2012 at 11:27 AM
AH, If I made excuses like the ones you stated I'd be fired. This SB always points the finger elsewhere. They keep no accountability of themselves. These items have been around a long time and this board was well aware of these mentioned items. That's why they shouldn't have over spent on the middle school projects but they knew they had these ACT 1 exemptions in their pocket and the assessment increases so they could spend what they wanted for the middle schools. Good job standing up for them. Wed. meeting will be to explain away the tax increases with these excuses you mentioned. Why are other SD balancing the budget wo tax increases?
Alicia Hawkins March 13, 2012 at 12:39 PM
PU, It's not an excuse, it's a fact. The unfunded pension liability and the state pension structure is simply not a sustainable system. Please quit reading beyond my words. I do not support increase in taxes beyond what the Act 1 limit. Please don't be naive, it is in the state's interest to approve the Act 1 exemption because that focuses attention locally, away from the Commonwealth. I am willing to bet the PDE almost never declines an Act 1 exemption application. I also agree that I would like to see the school district do much more to operate more efficiently before raising taxes. For instance, it is beyond me why we don't allow high school students participating in sports to count that as their gym class, thereby possibly eliminating one teacher position. I would also like the school district to develop an acceptable list of online courses, especially for summer school. Parents could pay for and children could meet requirements online, possibly also decreasing required number of teachers. Finally, my high school privatized busing, if you wanted to ride a bus, you paid for a bus pass from a private company and then provided the service. This worked fine and could save a huge amount of money. There are many more ideas that I would like the school district to try before raising taxes. My point is, let's have the hard discussions in a respectful manner.

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