Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Budget Battle Continues Staff Changes Disputed; No Programs Being Eliminated

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Budget Battle Continues Staff Changes Disputed; No Programs Being Eliminated

Article excerpt

Whitehall resident Cris Brady considers the Baldwin-Whitehall High School library a "sanctuary" and "place of peace" from the chaos of a large high school.

Her comments at last week's school board meeting echoed the remarks others made at an earlier meeting, where some in the audience wore "Students Need Librarians" stickers to protest a plan to have the high school librarian split her time between the high school and middle school as part of a proposal to cut the 2015-16 budget.

The board eventually reinstated the full-time high school librarian, but the rest of the administration's recommendations for the alteration and curtailment of educational programs totaling about $450,000, including reassigning personnel, were adopted last week.

The changes will be based on enrollment numbers.

Even with the cuts and a 0.81-mill tax increase, the district must take money from its $8.8 million fund balance, which is akin to a savings account, to cover a $1.9 million deficit in a final operating budget of $61.28 million.

The millage increase is the maximum allowed by the state index before a referendum and will generate $1.6 million in revenue. The new tax rate will be 18.42 mills.

The vote to adopt the budget was 5-4, with members Diana Kazour, Elliot Rambo, Martin Schmotzer and President Ray Rosing dissenting.

While no programs are eliminated, about 15 teaching positions and three positions in administration are being cut, with most consisting of retirements and resignations that will remain unfilled.

"They're not easy decisions," Superintendent Randal Lutz said of the 3 teacher furloughs, with some moving from full-time to part- time status, and others being laid off.

Besides enrollment and course demand, seniority and certifications are factors in staffing, with the seniority issue part of the collective bargaining agreement with teachers.

Mr. Lutz said if enrollment increases markedly, staff could be added. But a great drop in enrollment could lead to the elimination of programs he added. …

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