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Chester County Press

Avon Grove continues to work on proposed budget

03/31/2015 12:35PM ● By Steven Hoffman

The Avon Grove School District is continuing to work on the proposed budget for 2015-2016.

According to district business manager Daniel Carsley, as of right now there would be a 2.4 percent increase in the millage rate to balance the budget. The statewide Act 1 index limit for tax increases without seeking voter approval is 1.9 percent, but Avon Grove qualifies for exceptions that would push that limit to 2.4 percent.

Total expenditures for 2015-2016 are projected to be $85,637,852, an increase of about $3,999,161, or 4.9 percent. Approximately $1.5 million of that increase is a result of the state-mandated contributions to the retirement system. The retirement rate is increasing from 21.4 percent to 25.84 percent for 2015-2016.

Avon Grove is projecting a year-to-year increase in revenues, but would still need to dip into the fund balance for $4,307,015 to balance the budget.

A 2.4 percent increase in the millage rate would result in a tax increase of .659 mills, from the current millage rate of 27.499 mills to 28.159 mills.

A piece of the budgetary puzzle that remains unclear for Pennsylvania schools is the funding from the state for the 2015-2016 school year. New governor Tom Wolf has proposed significant funding increases for public schools in the preliminary state budget, but Republican lawmakers have notified superintendents that they shouldn’t count on those increases until a final budget is approved.

Avon Grove’s proposed budget keeps state funding at the same levels as the current year except for those items that are tied to variables, such as retirement, where the district can expect some additional funding.

At its March 26 meeting, the school board discussed several issues that could impact the district’s budget in the future.

School board member Ed Farina, who serves on the district’s Facilities Committee, said that the committee recently discussed the idea of having Avon Grove submit the necessary application to the state to get on the waiting list for reimbursements of a capital project.

Because of budget constraints, the state stopped offering funding to school districts through the PlanCON process for the building renovations and new construction that they undertook. But now, that PlanCON applications for reimbursement are being accepted again. Farina said that the Facilities Committee believes it would be appropriate to get on the waiting list in case the district opts for a construction project.

The district recently received a facilities study that outlined some of the options that Avon Grove could pursue to meet the future needs of the district.

This by no means commits us to doing anything,” Farina said of the decision to get on the waiting list for reimbursement.

Farina said that the Facilities Committee also talked about the conditions of the bathrooms at the high school, an ongoing issue in Avon Grove. The administration has recently implemented some changes that will improve the conditions of the bathrooms in the short-term. The Chester County Intermediate Unit will be doing an assessment of the bathroom conditions and then making a presentation about long-term solutions at the May meeting of the Facilities Committee.

Avon Grove superintendent Dr. Christopher Marchese talked about Avon Grove hosting the Safe Schools Summit last week, saying that “it was a nice opportunity to showcase our school district.”

The school board will meet again on Thursday, April 9 at 7:30 p.m.