Bethel Park school board accepts audit for 2012-13

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Bethel Park school board accepted a favorable audit of the district’s financial statements for 2012-13.

Steven Cypher, managing partner of Canonsburg certified public accountants Cypher & Cypher, reviewed the audit during Tueday night's board meeting. He noted that the district brought in some $6 million more in revenue than was spent through its general fund.

That allowed the district to add to its unreserved fund balance, which is intended to be available for unexpected financial obligations.

“We don’t have to go back too far to recognize that financially, the district was in trouble,” said Mr. Cypher. Bethel Park had a negative fund balance from 2002 through 2004.

The estimated beginning unassigned fund balance in the district's 2013-14 budget is listed as $4.95 million, which is consistent with amounts during the past five years, Mr. Cypher said.

The district faces challenges, though, in maintaining such stability. Costs are expected to rise, for example, as employees’ contracts expire and new ones are negotiated.

Meanwhile, funding continues to dwindle from state and particularly federal sources.

“We’re down to $331,000,” Mr. Cypher said about the latter’s allocation to Bethel Park in 2012-13.

The district also can anticipate significant increases in health insurance rates, he explained, while Bethel Park’s contribution to the Public School Employees’ Retirement System continues to grow dramatically.

“Current PSERS projections indicate that the district could be required to pay more than $41.4 million in contributions over current levels through school year 2023-24,” he noted in the audit presentation.

“This is devastating to most districts,” Mr. Cypher told the school board. “Luckily enough, we are able to withstand it so far.

Board member Tim Campbell expressed optimism about confronting the increasing costs.

“It’s going to be incredibly daunting,” he said. “But we will do it.”

In other business:

■ The board presented certificates to two faculty members who placed high in Pennsylvania’s 2014 Teacher of the Year program.

Nicola Hipkins, an English teacher at Bethel Park High School, was one of 11 finalists for the honor. Clyde Qualk, high school physics teacher, has been a semifinalist in each of the past two years.

Other Bethel Park teachers achieving consideration in recent years are Christopher Jack, high school English, 2012 finalist; Kathryn Kasten, fourth grade at William Penn Elementary, 2011 semifinalist; Charles Youngs, high school English, 2009 finalist; and Cindy Buckley, retired William Penn kindergarten teacher and current school board member, 2008 semifinalist.

■ Allegheny County Council member Sue Means presented the council’s proclamation of achievement to former school board member Richard Rose.

“I consider Dick the rock who provided continuity and stability over 32 years,” said Ms. Means, of Bethel Park, who sponsored the measure.

Mr. Rose’s tenure, which concluded at the end of 2013, represented the longest in the district’s history, and he served with 52 other board members, the proclamation states.


Harry Funk, freelance writer: suburbanliving@post-gazette.com.

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