The Nazareth Area School District preliminary budget for the 2012-2013 fiscal year calls for a 2 percent property tax increase. Any possible layoffs will be decided later and one board member suggested talking to teachers about a possible pay freeze -- something the teachers union rejected for the current school year.
The proposed increase of 0.95 mills, from 47.69 mills to 48.64 mills, would mean a tax increase of $74 for an average property owner in the district. The budget -- projected at just over $69 million -- is still in the preliminary stage and could change by the time it is adopted in final form in May 2012. The budget will be in effect from July 1, 2012 through June 30, 2013.
Factors that could affect the final budget include the level of education funding in next year's state budget, as well as enrollment trends and projections over the coming months, district administrators said during their budget presentation at Monday's meeting of the Nazareth Area School Board.
Superintendent Victor Lesky, during the hourlong presentation, summed up the district's financial situation as “not by any means good, but .”
He expounded on the point by noting that in good financial times, some families will travel to Disney World for vacation, while in leaner years they go camping instead.
“We are in camping mode,” Lesky said.
Lesky lauded department heads and building principals throughout the district for cutting projected expenditures to the bone. Expenses for several departments will decrease next year, according to the budget proposal. (See .pdf document attached to this article.)
In addition to the 2 percent tax increase, the administration proposes to take about $571,000 from the district's fund balance -- roughly similar to a personal savings account for a private individual -- to balance the budget.
The proposed budget does not include any increases in staff. Whether or not the final budget will include any staff layoffs was left up in the air Monday. The language reads:
- No additional positions in 2012-2013 budget.
- All staff positions to be reviewed for possible retention in 2012-2013.
It was clear Monday that tension remains between the school board and the Nazareth Area Education Association, which represents the district's teachers. The teachers union last spring and administration to agree to a wage freeze for the 2011-2012 budget -- which eliminated several teaching positions, including the district's .
More of the same could be coming soon.
Board member Jerry Treon suggested that administrators should at some point approach the teachers union “to see if something could be worked out about a pay freeze” for 2012-2013.
The preliminary budget is scheduled to be adopted on Jan. 23, 2012. Further budget discussion will take place from then through May. Final adoption is scheduled for May 21, 2012.