U-CF to consider program cuts

No specific proposals were made, but the Unionville-Chadds Ford School District administration will look at possibly cutting or changing some programs so that next year’s budget can be enacted without the need to go to a referendum for tax increases.

As discussed during the Jan. 11 school board work session, the proposed preliminary budget calls for tax increases beyond the Act I limit. The state-mandated limit for the upcoming year is a 2.4 percent increase, but the proposed preliminary budget has taxes increasing by 3.71 percent in Chester County and 3.92 percent for residents in Chadds Ford Township in Delaware County.

The Chester County millage rate is expected to increase from 26.99 mills to 27.99. Delaware County residents can expect an increase from 22.92 mills to 23.82 mills. (A mill is a tax of $1 for every $1,000 of assessed property value.)

State law prevents a school district from raising taxes beyond the Act I limit without a referendum. School Board President Vic Dupuis said the board wants to “take referendum off the table.”

One way to avoid a referendum is to ask for exceptions, a real-dollar amount based on money used for special education and for the state education retirement system.

The budget still shows exceptions, but the administration is also looking at the possibility of program cuts. Superintendent John Sanville said the administration would look at that during the next months of the budget process and make recommendations on possible program changes. School board directors would then vote on whether or not to accept those recommendations.

Jeff Hellrung, the board vice president, said the district needs to reduce spending by about $1 million to stay within the Act I limits.

Dupuis said the board would look at “program and taxing choices.”

The proposed preliminary budget reflects $82.5 million in anticipated revenue — $69.3 million from local sources. With fund balances and exceptions factored in along with state and federal monies, the revenue total would be $90.2 million. Expenses are anticipated to be $83.6 million.

Of the anticipated spending, $47 million is earmarked for instruction, $25.9 million for support, $1.6 million for non-instructional services and $8.9 for “other.”

The timetable for deciding on the 2016-2017 school year budget has the board voting on the proposed preliminary budget in two weeks, during the Jan. 25 regular meeting to be held at C.F. Patton Middle School, with public hearings scheduled for May 2, 3 and 4.

Any modifications would be made on or before May 6. Approval on the proposed final budget is scheduled for May 16, five weeks before the final vote on June 20.

About Rich Schwartzman

Rich Schwartzman has been reporting on events in the greater Chadds Ford area since September 2001 when he became the founding editor of The Chadds Ford Post. In April 2009 he became managing editor of ChaddsFordLive. He is also an award-winning photographer.

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One Response to “U-CF to consider program cuts”

  1. Mary Walter says:

    While the Pennsylvania Legislature still has not passed a budget for fiscal year 2015, school districts across the state must prepare their budgets for 2016-17 school year without knowing what the true allocation will be for LAST YEAR’S budget. School directors, taxpayers, district employees, and all affected by the failure of our legislature to craft the 2015 state budget should not be expected to discuss, analyze, or propose any tax increases (or cuts), changes to programs, or any other options that will affect UCFSD for the 2015-2016 academic year. I encourage all to reach out by phone, e-mail, facebook to our local legislators to point out the fallacy of expecting the district number crunchers to meet a budget deadline for 2016 while the state government has failed to do so for 2015. Suggest extending the 2016 school budget submission deadline for as long as there is no 2015 state budget. What’s good for the state government is good for local governing and taxing bodies. Shame on our representatives for not fulfilling their fiduciary responsibility to their constituents while mandating local governments and districts to do so.

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