Seneca Valley administrators are looking for ways to save money next school year.
Superintendent Tracy Vitale told school board members Monday that they are looking at upcoming retirements and trying to determine which positions can be eliminated. That is only one of the money-saving options the district is considering in an effort to close the projected $2.8 million shortfall in the proposed 2013-14 school budget.
School board member James Welsh noted this is the closest the district budget has been to balanced in the last few years. Last year's shortfall was in excess of $4 million and the previous year was about $10 million.
Ms. Vitale said the smaller shortfall doesn't mean it's been easy for administrators.
"On the front lines we've had to live with more students in classes and less teachers. There are very few cuts left to make. You will have some difficult decisions to make again," she said.
Last year, the district eliminated 19.5 jobs, cut hours for support staff, raised student activity fees and hiked property taxes.
Ms. Vitale said they are constantly looking for new revenue and ways to save money.
The district pulled in about $35,000 this school year from advertising revenue it made on the district web site and calendar, according to Linda Andreassi, district spokeswoman.
The district also estimates it saved about $100,000 because 10 pupils returned to the district from cyber charter schools, Ms. Andreassi said.
Identifying pupils in those schools and bringing them back to the district has become a priority, she added. The district paid about $1.6 million to cyber charter schools this year because Seneca Valley pupils opted to enroll in those programs.
The district has tried to counter those costs by starting its own cyberschool through the Seneca Valley Academy of Choice. Seneca Valley has also had success marketing its cyberschool to other public school districts that pay to send their pupils to the Seneca Valley program.
Ms. Andreassi has proposed the district spend $33,000 more to advertise on the Internet and television. She said they hope to bring back Seneca Valley residents attending outside cyber charter schools, which will cut down district expenditures. She estimates the marketing efforts will cost about $33,000.
The school board will consider her proposal next month.
Ms. Vitale said board members will also be asked to look at a property tax increase and determine if any money will be taken from the district's savings to balance this year's budget.
The district's inflationary index allows it to increase taxes by 2.2 mills next school year. Seneca Valley was also granted special exceptions from the state, which allows it to levy more taxes because of high costs. In total, the district could increase taxes by 4.75 mills, Ms. Vitale said.
She said the school board should have a proposed budget by May 13 and will vote on the new budget June 7.
Laure Cioffi, freelance writer: firstname.lastname@example.org