Avon Grove School District's Act 1 Index limit is set at 3.1 percent
By Steven Hoffman
Preliminary work on the 2018-2019 budget is underway in Avon Grove, and even though the deadline for the school board to finalize and adopt the spending plan is June 30, it already appears that a tax increase will be likely in order to balance the budget.
District officials noted that there are still a lot of unknowns regarding the budget at this point, including the funding that will come from the state—a significant piece in the budgetary puzzle.
School board vice president Bonnie Wolff, who serves on the district's Finance and Budget Committee, explained at the Jan. 25 school board meeting that Avon Grove's adjusted Act 1 Index limit for the 2018-2019 fiscal year is approximately 3.1 percent. The Act 1 Index limit establishes the largest increase that a school district could have without seeking approval from residents via a referendum.
At this point in the budgeting process, it appears as if the school district will need to dip into its fund balance and increase taxes in order to balance the budget. It remains to be seen how large the tax increase will be as a number of issues will need resolved in the coming months.
Funding that school districts receive from the state have not kept pace with the fixed costs that districts face. There have been year-to-year increases in PSERS costs for more than a decade. Avon Grove is also facing the possibility of declining revenues from local sources as property owners in the area have sought and received reassessments that have lowered the assessed value of their properties—and consequently reduced their school tax bills.
Wolff said that the reduced reassessments could amount to more than $200,000 in lost revenues for the coming year. Noting that the district does not receive adequate funding from the state, Wolff said that the loss of local revenues on top of that creates a difficult situation for the district when it comes time to prepare the next budget.
In other business at the Jan. 25 meeting, superintendent Dr. Christopher Marchese honored the nine members of the school board. Marchese noted that January is School Director Recognition Month in Pennsylvania, and that each of the school board members dedicate many hours each month to work for the district. Marchese recognized each of the nine school board members individually during the meeting.
Charles Beatty III has been a school board member since 2011 and represents Region I. Herman Engel has served on the board since 2010 and represents Region III. Rick Dumont represents Region II and just joined the board in December of 2017. Another newcome to the school board is John Auerbach, who is a representative of Region I and has also served since December. Bill Wood has been a school board member since 2016 and represents Region III. Jeffrey Billig has been a school board member since 2015 and represents Region II. Lynn Weber just joined the board in December and represents Region I. Board vice president Bonnie Wolff, the longest-serving current member of the Avon Grove School Board, first joined it in 2003. She represents Region III. School board president Tracy Lisi joined the board in 2015 and represents Region II.
An Avon Grove Committee of the Whole meeting is slated for Thursday, Feb. 8 at 6 p.m. at the Avon Grove High School's library/media center.