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$1.3M Deficit Projected for Schools

October 22, 2011
By MIKE HUGHES - For The Intelligencer , The Intelligencer / Wheeling News-Register

The district's five-year forecast dominated discussion during Thursday's meeting of the Shadyside Local Schools Board of Education.

For fiscal 2012 and 2013, the district should remain in the black. But the forecast for subsequent years paints a much bleaker picture - and some major changes are likely down the road.

"As everyone can see, we're OK for the time being," Treasurer Melissa Visnic said. "But we have to start planning ahead to make it through the future years. I'm sure we'll be discussing everything from levies to reductions to whatever the board and administration would deem possible to do in order to balance the budget."

Visnic said that next fiscal year the district will have a positive balance of about $1.4 million. The following year it will be only $172,000 in the black.

Year three of the forecast projects a deficit of about $1.3 million. And, Visnic said, "It just gets worse from there."

The closure of First Energy's R.E. Burger plant took a sizable chunk out of the district's budget. First Energy will reimburse the district on a declining scale, starting at 100 percent of previous payments, followed by 75 percent, two years at 50 percent and then 25 percent before payments end altogether in fiscal 2016.

Increased costs for salaries and benefits, utility costs and other expenditures coupled with declining revenue will force changes, officials said.

That's why Superintendent Terry Brinker said the district will be proactive in formulating a plan long before ink on the balance sheet shifts from red to black.

"We're putting together what we're calling our long-range planning committee," Brinker said. "It will study our forecast, the district and what we need to be doing here in the near future."

Brinker said the district's insurance committee will soon meet with board members and representatives of the district's unions to discuss services and options.

The next meeting of the board will take place at 6:30 p.m. Nov. 16.

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