Boone estimates $3.6 million deficit

Kindergarten, sports, and other large expenditure items will likely be recommended once again for curtailment in the Daniel Boone School District, said board President Andrew Basile at the Sept. 25 Finance Committee meeting.

Basile, also the Finance Committee chairperson, said those programs would be one option for the board to reduce an anticipated $3.6 million 2014-15 budget deficit.

Dennis Younkin, who recently retired from his position as Director of Finance and Support Services at the York Suburban School District, York County, provided the district with an updated Act 1 Timeline for 2014-15, a five-year budget analysis, and a 2014-15 proposed budget.

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He was hired on an interim basis after the resignation in June of Business Manager Danielle Penza, and has been working with the district’s Assistant Business Manager Mark Boyer.

Younkin said the $3.6 million deficit was based on his calculations of a $55 million budget with $52 million in revenues that includes a tax increase to the index of 2.8 percent for $900,000 revenue, as well as “updated assumptions.”

“We now have a more accurate idea of how to predict, make assumptions,” said Basile. “Some numbers were under, and at this point, we’re counting the nickels and dimes. This is an opportunity to look at some of those assumptions we weren’t doing correctly.”

The district’s salaries and benefits total $2.7 million of the expenditures and range from $46,200 to $95,000.

Superintendent Dr. Gary L. Otto said the “step movement” in teacher salaries is six percent a year “just for showing up.”

Boyer said the business office is using a salary matrix to estimate salary adjustments; a salary of $61,117 would increase next year to $69,130.

Basile said the district administration will present a preliminary balanced 2014-15 budget to the board in November.

He said it will then be the board’s job to determine if it agrees with the administration’s recommendations of program curtailments, a tax increase, and/or the use of the $4.6 million (as of June 30) fund balance money, or any other expenditure or revenue ideas.

Boyer said Sept. 26 that the $4.6 million fund balance includes the $700,000 2013-14 budget surplus money, and also that the fund amount could change upon completion of the annual audit.

Otto will begin meeting with internal department heads in October to review their budgets, which he said will no longer include any contingency amounts.

“My aim is to create a district (general) contingency,” said Otto, adding, “I will say ‘no,’ and the departments must explain why not. Each department won’t have its own contingency and the only way to know would be to go line by line. That’s the level of detail we’ll go to. It will be a needs-based budget.”

“That’s what the fund balance is for; no one should be padding anything,” said member Frank Cerminaro, adding that the board would most likely “take the tax increase out and put fund balance in” to balance the budget.

Based upon the Act 1 Timeline, Basile said a budget meeting will be held in December.

The board will begin drafting a policy regarding the money that is contributed to the Daniel Boone Blazers Sports Boosters fund.

Boyer said the Boosters board was reluctant to release its financial information upon a recent request form him.

“I told them I don’t want to take your money, just want to be sure there is correct accounting.

Otto said the school board would begin immediately to draft a policy for that fund and that “nothing happens to those funds until there is some decision by the board.”

Basile said the district doesn’t know now what is being paid from the Sports Booster money that is generated by student fundraising efforts, but that the money “needs to be frozen now.”

He said there also wouldn’t be any transfer of signatory powers.

“There is some accountability, since the sports funding page for the 501c3 non-profit organization must be sent to the state regarding Title IX,” said Basile. “We need to help the Boosters understand this is a collaborative effort and anyone can ask them for a budget.”

Boyer said the Sports Boosters doesn’t have the district’s buying power and that the student’s money could have been stretched farther.

The Finance Committee determined that an appropriate rent of the former Amity Primary Center (APC) to River Rock Academy & Day Treatment would be $9 per square foot.

Assistant Superintendent Marybeth Torchia said the alternative school would use 28,284 square feet of APC’s 67,808 total square feet.

That includes using the cafeteria, some classrooms, library, and the gym.

The lease is expected to begin in January and would include a six month termination notice by River Rock and a 60-day district termination notice.

Boyer said Daniel Boone’s cost to place students at KidsPeace locations, Community Service Foundation & Buxmont Academy in Bethlehem, and Devereau, Delaware County (calculated with current transportation costs) was $293,000 in 2011-12.

The district will realize a cost avoidance by transferring 5.6 students from the CSF Buxmont Academy location, as well as students from the River Rock location in Sinking Spring.