Budget would cut jobs

By MICHAEL ANICH

The Leader-Herald

JOHNSTOWN – Greater Johnstown School District officials are looking at eliminating as many as three positions through the district’s proposed $33.4 million budget for the 2016-17 school year.

The proposed budget will be the subject of a public hearing at 6 p.m. Tuesday in the Johnstown High School Lecture Hall. A short presentation will be followed by time for the audience to ask budget-related questions.

District voters will decide whether to approve the budget in voting from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. May 17.

“I think we’re going to be eliminating two or three positions,” School Business Manager Alice Sise said Thursday.

But Sise said she wasn’t sure if the positions, which weren’t specified, would be eliminated through attrition or layoffs. She said declining enrollment is a factor in personnel decisions. She said no new teachers will be added for the next school year through the proposed budget.

But Sise said some positions may be added down the line based on district needs.

District proposed budget figures show the spending plan totals $33.4 million. There would be a .18 percent spending increase over the district’s current 2015-16 budget.

The district’s projected property tax levy increase of $127,425 represents an increase of 1.62 percent, within the state levy tax cap. The total levy for 2016-17 would be $8.01 million.

Tax rates cannot be set until late summer until the five taxing jurisdictions within the district have completed computing assessment values for their properties, officials said.

The district website says the proposed spending plan “continues to provide quality educational programs for all children, including funding for instructional programs, extracurricular activities and athletic programs.”

The website adds that “there are reductions that students and residents may notice next year.”

“In order to address increasing costs, and years of relatively flat or decreased state and federal aid, some reductions were made in proposed expenditures and staffing positions,” the website says. “Positions vacated in the last year were examined to see if responsibilities could shift to another area; course offerings were reviewed to see where they could be combined to reduce personnel and generate savings; budgets for supplies and non-essential expenses were reduced. Despite these reductions, the proposed budget maintains average class sizes, athletics, extracurricular activities and advanced-level high school academic programs.”

Also included in the budget vote this year is a proposition to authorize the district to spend a total of $467,264 from the Bus Reserve Fund established by voters in May 2015. This is for the purchase of three 66-passenger school buses at a cost of $119,754 each, and to buy-out an emergency bus lease entered into during the 2014-15 school year for one 66-passenger IC wheelchair bus, at a cost of $108,000.

The bus expenditures will have no impact on the district’s tax levy for the 2016-17 school year.

Total state aid in the budget is at $19.2 million – up $264,866 from the current school year.

Revenues are expected to be $29.9 million, which had left a roughly $3.5 million shortfall still in the spending plan to be made up by reserves. Adjusted restricted fund balance will decrease from $6.5 million for the 2015-16 school year to $3.4 million for 2016-17.

One of the biggest expenses in the budget next school year is $8.8 million in employee benefits – up by $674,006.

Michael Anich covers Johnstown and Fulton County news. He can be reached at [email protected].

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