EDITORIALS

COMMENTARY: Cuts coming to G-A school district budget

Staff Writer
Echo Pilot
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By BOB CRIDER

Director of Educational

Operations

Creating a budget for any home or business is not an easy process. During this difficult current financial time it has become even more challenging. The Greencastle-Antrim School District (G-ASD) has historically been, and continues to be, fiscally sound. Our operations have been run with fidelity, both effectively and efficiently. G-ASD has one of the lowest costs per pupil expenditures in the state. We are ranked 12th out of the 500 existing districts in Pennsylvania. Stated differently, 488 school districts across Pennsylvania spend more per student than we spend. According to the Pennsylvania Department of Education, G-ASD has the lowest per student expenditure of any district in the tri-county area. Moreover, G-ASD is rated as the most cost-effective school district in Franklin County.

Regardless of this reality, we too are experiencing difficult financial times. School district administration and the Board of School Directors are currently working through the budgeting process for the 2011 –2012 school year. Our goal has not wavered throughout this process. That goal is to provide the best possible education in a fiscally responsible manner for the children of the Greencastle-Antrim community. That educational experience includes all aspects of the schools: quality teaching, educational programs, art and music opportunities, excellent facilities, athletic programs, food services, special educational services, guidance and counseling, technology development, and safe transportation to and from our complex.

We know that our community wants a quality educational system, one that instills pride, fosters business growth and invites new families to our community. We also know that we are going to have to do more with less in the coming years. How will we be able to do that? The only way that can be accomplished is to balance revenue and expenditures. Despite recent rumor regarding millage increases or tax hike percentages, please note that the Board of School Directors has not made a decision on the actual amount of a tax increase for the 2011 – 2012 budget. Additionally, this decision will not be made at the April 7 board meeting.

One decision that will affect our budget process for the 2011 – 2012 school year will be discussed at the April 7 Board of School Directors meeting, namely a decision will be made on the proposed stadium improvement project. Typically at board meetings we reserve and provide a 20-minute time period for public comment. Understanding that this is a sensitive issue for many in the community and wanting to hear from people on both sides, we will reserve and provide for a full hour of public comment at the April 7 meeting, beginning at 6 p.m. The meeting will be held in the Middle School cafeteria. Microphones will be provided for those desiring to make public comment. In fairness to those who have opinions both for and against the project, there will be two aisles set up in the cafeteria, one aisle for those supportive and one for those opposed. Each individual comment will be limited to three minutes. Furthermore, the Board will hear equal representation on this topic. This will be achieved by alternating comments from each of the aisles.

The budgeting process continues through the months of April and May, with a final budget being proposed for adoption in June. During this time period, school administration is tasked with looking for additional budget cuts that can be made. Those cuts will include some level of operations throughout the district. Cuts will include a level of both professional and supportive positions, educational programming and extra-curricular activities. This list has not been made public because the decisions are not final. This information will be shared over the next weeks and months as we carefully continue through a thorough budget process.