Sto-Rox school directors held off as long as possible before approving the $23.15 million 2013-14 budget, hoping the state might come through with additional funding before the district would be forced to make deep cuts to programming and furlough eight staffers.
The state budget was signed by Gov. Tom Corbett late Sunday night and contains about $122 million in additional funding for basic education.
The Pennsylvania Policy and Budget Center website shows an additional $151,040 will be allotted to Sto-Rox.
Directors last Thursday estimated an increase of approximately $120,00 to $130,000 from last year's numbers when creating the budget. The remainder of the state allotment will be placed in the fund balance for use in future years, said board member Ed Maritz Jr. who serves as secretary.
The state budget increases funding for K-12 education and early childhood programs and maintains spending on higher education.
Increases to special education funding were not included in the state budget and have not been for the past five years. Sto-Rox has $2.55 million of its total expenditures budgeted for special education initiatives.
Spending cuts and the eight furloughs totaled savings of approximately $893,343 and, $1.45 million from the district's fund balance was used to balance the budget. Approximately $1.3 million will be left in the fund balance as of June 30, 2014.
"We do not want to make these choices. We were forced to make these choices," said Mr. Maritz, who referred to the cuts as "very painful."
Furloughs included the elementary librarian, an elementary teacher, an elementary special education teacher, a middle school science teacher, a cafeteria employee, a maintenance employee and a secretary.
The district's home/school visitor who provided social work services and acted as the attendance officer for all grades also was released. A music teacher's position will be cut to half time.
Several positions were eliminated through attrition, including a paraprofessional, a community liaison person and a cafeteria employee.
Spring sports programs including boys baseball and girls softball were eliminated by an 8-1 vote. Director William Suder dissented.
In the business office, directors approved reorganization, including revision of job descriptions for the accounts payable and the payroll secretaries. The benefits secretary position has been eliminated.
Heather Johnston, president of the Sto-Rox teachers union, declined comment after the budget was passed. Administrators will not take pay increases during 2013-14.
The property tax rate for homeowners in McKees Rocks and Stowe dropped from 25 mills to 23.19 mills. Despite the lower rate, some property owners could face a higher tax bill because of Allegheny County property reassessments.
Sonja Reis, freelance: firstname.lastname@example.org.