The Plum school board Wednesday night voted on a preliminary 2013-14 budget that would lay off 23 teachers and cut programs to fill a $1 million budget deficit.
Superintendent Timothy Glasspool said a lack of state funding, the ongoing Allegheny County property reassessment process and a lower than normal collection of delinquent earned income taxes have all contributed to the budget shortfall.
In addition to the layoffs, some teachers will be lost to attrition, and the board also plans to add a "pay to play" fee for extracurricular activities, he said.
Additionally, the proposed spending plan calls for the district to discontinue its participation in an alternative program at Boyce Campus Middle College.
Mr. Glasspool said the board is still having conversations with the Plum Borough Education Association to try to come to "some kind of consensus or agreement."
Mr. Glasspool said the district had to contribute $1 million more this year than last year to the Pennsylvania State Employees' Retirement System, but he said the board doesn't plan to seek to raise taxes above the state Act 1 limit despite the exceptions for pension, special education or debt costs.
"The board had no intention of raising taxes above the index," Mr. Glasspool said.
Act 1, signed into law in 2006, establishes an annual index that determines the percentage each district in the state can raise taxes. Increases beyond the index require approval by the Education Department or by voter referendum.
The preliminary budget sets the millage at 18.444 mills, and increasing taxes to the Act 1 limit -- 18.758 mills -- would bring in $479,000, Mr. Glasspool said. But still leaves the district with a $1 million shortfall.
Though that millage rate is lower than this year's rate of 22.2 mills, most residents will pay the same amount or more in taxes because of the recent Allegheny County property reassessments.
Governments and school districts are required by state law to lower their millage rates to remain "revenue neutral" after property reassessments.
Mr. Glasspool said the board is trying to be sensitive to taxpayers while balancing the needs of the students.
"It's a difficult time," he said. "I know we're not the only ones in this situation."
He said the district has a reserve fund balance of $2.6 million and will discuss the possibility of tapping into that fund at a June 6 work session.
The board voted 5-3 to approve the preliminary spending plan Wednesday night, Mr. Glasspool said. John St. Leger, Loretta White and Tom McGough dissented, and Joe Tommarello was absent.
The board plans to vote on the final budget at its June 25 meeting.
Annie Siebert: email@example.com, 412-263-1613 and on Twitter: @AnnieSiebert.