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School District Facing $1.3 Million Deficit

With a 1.7 percent tax increase figured in, Hatboro-Horsham School District is facing a $1.3 million budget shortfall.

Hatboro-Horsham School District administrators painted a bleak picture of its nearly $90 million 2013-2014 spending plan which, as presented Tuesday, warrants the reduction of staff in an effort to balance the budget.

Without a tax increase, Hatboro-Horsham is facing a $2.2 million shortfall, according to Robert Reichert, the district's director of business affairs, who gave his second of five budget presentations during Tuesday night's school board meeting. The board is required by law to adopt a balanced budget by June 30.

With a 1.7 percent tax boost - the amount permitted under Act 1 - the district is still facing a $1.3 million deficit, he said.

And since salary and benefits make up roughly 77 percent of the district's annual spending, Reichert said cuts would need to be made there.

"There’s only so much you can do to reduce utility costs, property insurance," Reichert said.

Ideally, Superintendent Curtis Griffin said the district hopes to do the bulk of its staff reduction through attrition. When a teacher with decades of seniority retires and is not replaced, for instance, Griffin said the district stands to save $100,000 per position. On the other hand, teachers furloughed or demoted generally save the district about $45,000 per position.

At those rates, Griffin said six retirements or 10 to 12 furloughs would be necessary to reach the district's goal of a $515,000 reduction in staffing costs.

In terms of when teachers would be notified of potential changes, Griffin said, "I prefer to wait as long as possible as we work through retirements."

"It typically is not a last-minute decision," he told Patch after the meeting.

Administrators keep tabs on its seniority list which details teachers with 30 or more years of service, as well as those who are 55 and older, he said. Griffin said he could not recall how many teachers fit into those categories.

The district is negotiating with the Hatboro-Horsham Education Association on a new contract. In the , after a nearly two-year stalemate, the district offered incentives for teachers to take early retirements.

Griffin declined to say if retirement incentives were part of discussions for the impending contract, which is slated to go into effect on July 1.

"If it's possible to incentivize retirements we would consider it," he said.

Besides scaling back staffing costs, the district plans to cut its benefits expenses by $495,000 through employee co-pay changes and self-funding.

While not on the checklist of areas in need of cuts, Griffin said school programs would need to be curtailed as well.

"We’re not going to be able to provide all the services, all the programs that we have in the past," Griffin said, adding that the district's funding of AP exams would be on the list of cuts.

"It was a wonderful service that we provided for years," Griffin said. "There’s other areas that we’re looking at. We have several meetings scheduled for the spring."

qdogPa January 23, 2013 at 04:23 PM
Same story, just a different year...How about a contract without an jncrease for a period of time..MANY companies have red-lined employee salaries...And perhaps somebody needs to be accountable for the lousy performance at the high school level
Suzanne January 23, 2013 at 07:14 PM
I would hope that those responsible for the budget keep in mind that most taxpayers aren't seeing increases in our income and that increased taxes mean hardship for many of us. In addition, if we are forced to pay more in property taxes local merchants will see fewer of us in their check-out lines resulting in closed businesses and empty properties. The cost of everything is going up. It is only fair that we should all share the burden, and that there are no protected groups which continue to receive pay raises and cadillac benefit plans while the rest of us are making do with less.

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