Shaky financial future predicted for Sto-Rox schools

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The district could slide into financially distressed status by 2015 if revenue from the state remains stagnant, school Director Ed Maritz Jr. said in a presentation at Thursday's board meeting.

Mr. Maritz gave a "state of the district" presentation at the session, at which the board also voted on the 2013-14 budget.

That budget eliminates 11 positions -- three by attrition -- and the spring sports program.

"This district does not have a spending problem. We have a revenue problem," he said. He indicated that the district's long-term fiscal viability is in significant danger.

Mr. Maritz dispelled rumors of drastic action in the upcoming year; the district won't close, merge with others or allow a charter school system to take over its management in 2013-14.

The school board requested Mr. Maritz make the presentation, in which he pointed to inadequate state funding for public education and a lack of statewide charter school funding reform as reasons for an uncertain future.

Sto-Rox was previously under state control from May 1992 through February 1999.

If revenue does not increase, his financial forecast shows the district with a negative fund balance of $735,971 by June 30, 2015, and $3.213 million by the end of the following school year.

"If that holds true, there won't be a district anymore," he said. "... If we fail and fold, what are we going to do with these children?"

The negative fund balance prediction for 2015-16 is very similar to what the district will pay out to send 311 students to 19 charter schools, Mr. Maritz said.

Sto-Rox has $3.257 million budgeted for charter school expenses next year.

His presentation also discussed how funding cuts impact all Pennsylvania students and how lower-income areas receive less funding by percentage than more affluent districts.

Mr. Maritz's presentation, "What's Really Going On at Sto-Rox?" can be viewed at www.srsd.k12.pa.us.

He urged those in attendance to contact state lawmakers with their concerns over funding.Names and contact information are included in the presentation.

education - neigh_west

Sonja Reis, freelance writer: suburbanliving@post-gazette.com.


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