This article can be found published on the Daily Local News‘ website.
WEST GOSHEN — Now that the dust has settled in Harrisburg and the state has a budget, the West Chester Area School Board was able to unanimously pass a proposed final budget without having to play a guessing game with the numbers.
The proposed final budget for the 2016-17 school year will be $237.3 million — a 5-percent increase from 2015-16 — and has an $11.6 million increase in expenses, 73 percent of which are state and federally mandated.
The preliminary budget, passed in January, featured a 4.1 tax increase.
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With a state budget now in place, the school board was able to bring that increase down to 3 percent, or a $108 average increase per household, as of the proposed final budget.
“We have done our very best to control the expenses that are within our control,” Superintendent Jim Scanlon said in a release. “Unfortunately, the increase in mandates makes it nearly impossible to avoid a tax increase without making cuts to our program.”
The mandates will cost the district an $8.5 million increase with the biggest chunk — $4.5 million — going to PSERS, or the pension expenses.
Another $3.2 million is for special education and the final $800,000 will go to charter school tuitions.
The non-mandated $1.3 million of the increase will go toward salaries, health care benefits, books and supplies and other operating expenses the district has.
The proposed final budget is available on the school district’s website for the public to view for 30 days.
The board will vote on the final budget, which could include another reduction in the tax increase by then, at its regular monthly meeting on May 25.
“We are working hard to be good fiscal stewards while still delivering the best possible educational experience,” said Ricky Swalm, president of the school board.