MILL HALL – With the Commonwealth schools budgets only months away from being made official, Keystone Central School Board got another detailed look at the 2022-23 budget during the March business session.
In a presentation by KCSD Superintendent Jacquelyn Martin and Chief Commercial Officer Susan Blesh, the two explained the $82.467 million budget during Thursday evening’s meeting. The good news? From now on, the budget will be balanced without raising taxes.
At “request from a member of the board of directors”, Martin and Blesh added a table that gave a comparison of rates per mile in Clinton, Center, and Clearfield counties. The chart was based on 2019 figures, they said. The average rate per thousandth was 17.642. Four Center County schools — Bald Eagle Area, Bellefonte, Philipsburg-Osceola and Penns Valley — had the highest rates. They were followed by Glendale, Clearfield, State College and West Branch. The lowest per mile rates belonged to KCSD, Moshannon Valley, Curwensville and Harmony.
“We looked at how Keystone Central compares to all the other districts in IU-10,” Martin noted, “which would encompass all of Clearfield County, all of Center County and of course we are the only district in Clinton County. What this represents is an equalized mileage comparison. So (that’s) where we rank among our neighbors in IU-10.
Blesh pointed out that the higher the equalized mill rate, the greater the tax burden on taxpayers.
“Keystone falls just above 15 (mills)”, said Blash.
“The finance committee felt that was a very positive slide,” said Martin. “This is positive feedback for the taxpayers of Keystone Central.”
Board member Jeff Johnston said he was “Pleasantly surprised” with the rank of KCSD.
“Where we fell here… I was glad to see that, really,” he said.
Board member Elisabeth Lynch agreed.
“That’s very good news,” she says.
Martin and Blesh also reviewed Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf’s final budget and its impact on the district. The governor’s budget includes a state grant of $3,125,553, including $2,611,775 for basic education and $513,778 for special education. Projected savings for KCSD will be $2,861,505.
“The Governor’s budget proposal looks very good. If it were to proceed as proposed, Keystone Central would be in very good condition. But we also don’t count on any of those dollars until they materialize,” he added. said Martin.
Governor Wolf’s budget could undergo drastic changes before it is passed, so those numbers were not reflected in the KCSD budget, Blesh said.
Blesh discussed notable expenses for KCSD coming in 2022-23. In terms of operating budgets, there are class budget requests ($101,367) and support budget requests ($347,572). With respect to personnel budgets, there is a reduced grant for benefits ($202,575) and budget contingencies ($229,007).
According to Blesh, a large part of the classroom budget requests relate to the need to recycle old furniture, primarily desks and chairs.
“As we walk through the buildings and look at our furniture, and see the time our property services people have spent fixing desks and chairs and all that kind of stuff, we realize there’s a need to move on to a furniture replacement cycle, said Blash.
Attrition and resignations are expected to save the district $880,521.
The district’s fund balance is expected to be around $15 million, Blesh said.
The budget will continue to take shape over the next two months. The Board will review the proposed General Fund budget at the April meeting. At the May meeting, the board would adopt the proposed final balanced budget. The final adoption of the budget will take place at the June meeting.
Martin pointed out that the 2022-23 budget of $82,467,833 is lower than the current budget, which was $82,897,797.
“We’re actually reducing our overall spending by about half a million dollars,” said Martin.
The Keystone Central School Board will meet again at 6:30 p.m. on Thursday, March 10 for a voting session. The meeting is open to the public, but will also be streamed live via Zoom on the district’s website.