Schools Feeling Loss Of Plant

SHADYSIDE – The cost of doing business is increasing in the Shadyside Local School District as revenue decreases, and school officials will ask voters to approve a 4.61-mill emergency operating levy when they go to the polls Nov. 5.

Superintendent John Haswell attributes the district’s financial woes to the closure of the R.E. Burger plant in 2010 – a move that costs the district $733,000 a year in lost tax revenue.

The Shadyside school district has an annual budget of about $6 million, and the loss represents “quite a chunk,” according to Haswell. He said the 4.61-mill, five-year levy is expected to generate about $365,000 annually.

“We’re asking voters to meet us halfway with the 4.61-mill, five-year levy that will help us to continue to operate,” he said. “If we would ask them for all of the money back, we would be asking them for over a 10-mill levy.”

Haswell said the average home in Shadyside is valued at $85,000. Based on that figure, the levy would cost the average homeowner $137.15 a year, or $11.42 per month, he added.

“And the cost of doing business has gone up a ton in the past six years,” Haswell said.

He presented figures showing that in fiscal year 2008, Shadyside Local schools had a general fund budget of $6,446,321 and expenditures of $5,783,683. Haswell compared this to projections for fiscal 2014, when the district is expected to have a general fund budget of $5,573,912 and expenditures of $6,161,176.

“In six years, we have lost $872,049 in operating funds, while our general fund budget is up $587,262,” he said. “We’re operating on almost $1 million less than we were six years ago, and it’s common sense that the cost of doing business has not gone down.”

He acknowledged the levy “doesn’t fix everything” and that the district will have to work to cut costs. Programs likely will be cut, Haswell continued.

“We’re a people-driven business,” he said. “If we have to cut costs, we have to cut people. It’s not something we want to do. It’s not like there’s a lot of fluff.”

The district employs 75, including 50 teachers, according to Haswell. He said 7.5 positions were not filled over the last year when they became open.

“One of them is when former Superintendent Terry Brinker left and I became both principal at the high school and the superintendent,” Haswell said. “I will continue in that capacity until the board says, ‘No more,’ or I say, ‘No mas.'”

He added that voters may notice work being done at Fleming Field and other school facilities this summer despite expected financial shortfalls. These projects, he said, are being paid for through a 4.5-mill permanent improvement levy already passed by voters.

The intended use for the permanent improvement levy revenue is to maintain the school district’s property, Haswell continued. To transfer these dollars into any other fund would require a court order, he noted.