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USC School Board Discusses Tax Increases, Staff Cuts

The Upper St. Clair School District is facing a budget shortfall.

The Board discussed tax increases and staffing cuts while exploring budget options at their meeting Monday night.

The board is expected to vote on adopting a at the next meeting on Monday, Jan. 23. The move would allow the district to apply for state tax exceptions.

The pre-set state limit the district is currently allowed to raise taxes by next year is .337 mills, equivalent to $67 per $200,000 of assessed value.

Frosina Cordisco, the district's business manager, estimates the state would allow a 1.57 mills tax increase if the district follows the proper application process. A 1.57 mills tax increase would be equal to $314 per $200,000 of assessed value.

The board is exploring tax exception options due to a projected $2.8 million 2012-13 budget shortfall.

Board member Harry Kunselman said he plans on voting for adopting the preliminary budget next week and urges other board members to do the same.

"Voting on the preliminary budget does not indicate what I will do on the final budget. We have to play this little game with the powers in Harrisburg," Kunselman said.

"This is very different from the traditional preliminary budget we vote on in May. This is a very long process and a very difficult budget," Vice President Barbara Bolas said.

The preliminary budget that will be voted on includes a health care cost increase of 5 percent to 8.75 percent and 10 professional and six support position cuts. The preliminary budget pdf is available for viewing in the photo box above.

Superintendent Patrick O'Toole said the administration will look ahead on ways to balance future budgets when making staffing cuts, which means more than 16 position cuts are possible for the 2012-13 school year.

Board member Amy Billerbeck said PTA parents have expressed serious concerns to her about class size. O'Toole said the administration will "work very hard to protect" smaller class sizes.

Billerbeck and other school board members encourage residents to reach out to local legislators "to get movement at the state level." President Rebecca Stern said the district is planning informational meetings in the near future to motivate the public to speak out and contact government officials.

IB Decision for Streams

O'Toole is delaying the decision on whether to make an all-IB school or not. to read the entire article.

New School Board Member

was sworn into office on Monday night.

Hasco will serve out the rest of Bruce Kerman's term. after a four-year battle with cancer in December.

Athletic Ticket Sales

The district sold a total of 1,598 tickets for soccer games, 7,253 tickets for football games and 732 football passes during the 's 2011 fall season. Two dollars from each ticket sold, a total of $19,166, will be used to make improvements to the facilities, according to Cordisco. Possibilities include sidewalk and swimming pool repairs.

Automated Substitute Placement System

Cordisco informed the school board that the woman who organized substitute teacher placement for the district gave notice in December that she would no longer be able to provide her services.

Cordisco recommends the district purchase AESOP, an automated substitute placement and absence management system. Teachers would be able to submit their absence through the computer system, and substitute teachers would be notified through the system via email or automated phone call.

There is an upfront $6,000 cost to purchase the system. However, Cordisco said after that the system would cost less than $10,000 a year, which is less than what the district is currently paying for a human to organize substitutes.

In the meantime, a retired substitute teacher for the district will be taking over the substitute teacher organizing duties.

Pedestrian-Activated Signal at Boyce Middle School

Upper St. Clair School District only received one bid for the pedestrian-activated signal at . is requiring the district to install the signal due to the grading of Boyce Road.

The signal installation cost will be $41,900. A solar-powered signal is also an option, which would cost $46,600. The township will be responsible for paying the signal's utility bills. The district may ask the township for financial assistance to pay for the installation.

Upper St. Clair High School's Spring Musical

Michael Boyas, student representative, told the school board this spring's musical will be South Pacific. Performances will be held during the first two weekends of March 2012.

William Johns January 19, 2012 at 01:45 PM
I am certainly proud of the school district's record of accomplishment, but I am equally tired of the board's constant whining about costs to justify yet another tax increase. They face the same problem that every other district in the state faces. The problem facing the district will not be fixed by a one time tax increase. The PSERS predicament, one of the major causes of the problem will get much worse in each succeeding year unless the state does something to fix it. I have yet to see a projection from the board going out beyond one year, but my guess is that the problem will become much worse. So if the board's answer is always to raise taxes, well batten down the hatches. They need to become much more creative than that! Time to start living by affordability, discontinuing marginal programs, increasing class sizes, preparing to renegotiate collective bargaining agreements, changing feeder patterns, increasing employee contributions towards benefits to be realistic with the corporate world, finding private sources of funding, evaluating outsourcing opportunities, putting heat on the governor and state legislators, using busses longer, privatize the white elephant community center that was funded by extraordinarily high debt without the courtesy (some might argue legal obligation) of a voter referendum and now supported by our taxes (ok, ya got me, that's for the township to do, not the school board... Just sayin'... Tax dollars still come from the same pocket!)
Mary Repischak January 19, 2012 at 04:44 PM
Have we gone to the Union to see if their members would agree to paying a percentage of the the rising medical insurance. Perhaps the union would save a position or two for their members and friends for the upcoming school year. Everyone needs to help. I'm just wondering if there is open communication between the Union and the School Board.

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