KC to tackle budget, school choice tonight
RENOVO — The Keystone Central School Board has a busy agenda tonight at their spring meeting at Bucktail Area High School in Renovo.
And the decisions the board makes likely will weigh heavily into the future.
The board is set to vote on a tentative $77 million budget for 2017-18 that includes a 3.4 percent property tax increase in order to partially cover a projected $5.7 million deficit.
That tax hike should mean the following:
r It’s projected to raise $545,000 in additional tax revenue.
r For properties with a taxable value of $93,300, it will mean increases as follows: Clinton County, $30.79 more; Centre County, $122.22 more, and Potter County, $78.37 more.
Tonight’s vote is preliminary approval; budget adoption is set for the board’s June 15 meeting at the Central Mountain High School library.
The rest of the deficit will be made up with reserve funds, giving the district a fund balance of $6 million at July 1.
“This budget will run at a deficit … to come out of the dwindling general fund,” Keystone Central Superintendent Kelly Hastings, meeting with The Express on Wednesday, said.
She announced that plans are being set in motion for Keystone to host committees made up of interested citizens who will get the chance to look under the hood of Keystone’s finances and help find solutions that will “allow the district to avoid catastrophic cuts.”
“The board is very interested in any solutions the public can propose once educated with a full view of the complexities of the situation,” she said, adding, “We are one of over 500 districts that are struggling, many of whom have had to execute drastic measures to stay functional, such as cutting the arts.”
She said the school board’s intention is to avoid such a fate and to continue providing the best education to students that it can.
The new committees, she hopes, will be formed and/or begin to meet in July to being their assessments.
Also very important to Keystone’s future is the board and administration’s plans to make school choice more available in the district.
A bus waiver program will allow students to flow more freely between schools for reasons such as classes offered or class size, Hastings said.
For example, if a student currently going to school in Renovo wishes to take cosmetology, which is not a class offered at Bucktail Area High School, they can elect to be bused down to Central Mountain, where the class is offered.
Likewise, if a student is unhappy with the class size at their current school, either because they want a smaller or larger class size, that student could use that as a reason to opt in for a different school, she said.
These waivers will likely need to be renewed on an annual basis, and will need to be evaluated by the district to verify that the change is working for the student, she emphasized.
“Parents and students have been asking for more choices, with the cyber schools and such –this is Keystone’s effort to add more choices for students,” Hastings said.
The Keystone Central School Board meeting will occur tonight at 6:30 p.m. in the cafeteria of the Bucktail Area High School.
Meanwhile, below is information the administration has posted on its website at www.kcsd.us to lay out about $3,636,857 in cost-savings it will execute the coming year:
Reduce Discretionary Budgets: Cost savings, $2,049,857
This allows for the following: Mandatory needs of the district will be met, emergency needs will be evaluated at time of incident to determine action, and building budgets consist of Copier Lease expense only
Impact of option: No classroom supplies/support from district, reduces ability to print/copy student materials, loss of intramural athletic activities, some students may not be able to supply requested material, less building maintenance – potentially increase capital project cost in the future, concerns about test results, student needs not met, and student clubs – competitions to be paid by clubs.
Facility Use Energy Savings: Cost savings, $60,000
Rationale: Reduce energy usage and lock in reduced electricity and gas rates.
Reduction of Contract Services/Consultants (Title Consultant, Special Education Consultant, Athletic Director Contracts at Bucktail & CMHS): Cost savings, $100,000
Rationale: Capacity has been built with consultant support in the past, and current administrators would have to assume additional work duties.
Impact of option: Less support to administration and faculty, concerns about litigious situations, and additional athletic responsibilities will fall on administration.
Eliminate 1 World Language at Secondary: Cost savings, $200,000
Rationale: District is still in compliance offering two world languages, and 2 Teachers – no job loss through attrition.
Impact of option: Students lose one world language option.
Eliminate CTE Programming at Secondary – 2 Programs: Cost savings, $120,000
Rationale: 1 Teacher and the district will maintain CTE programming
Impact of option: Fewer options for students.
Eliminate resources/supplemental activities; summer curriculum writing, tutor program, professional development, 4-sight testing, and curriculum materials: Cost savings, $302,000
Rationale: All these activities are supplemental to classroom instruction
Impact of option: Loss of supports may impact quality of instruction, and potential increase in special education numbers.
Freeze the one-to-one Laptop initiative: Cost savings, $285,000
Rationale: Utilize laptops already owned to continue 9-12 grades for 17/18
Impact of option: Evaluate program for 18/19 and bring your own device option.
Eliminate Energy Ed Services: Cost savings, $20,000
Rationale: Reduction of Energy Ed position
Reduction of Title Assistants (Due to reduced federal funding): Cost savings, $400,000
Rationale: Maintain title teachers
Impact of option: Reduction of services students
Technology Integration Position: Cost savings, $100,000
Rationale: 1 Teacher – no job loss through attrition
Impact of option: Loss of support to teachers and students.
Summer school fees schedule: Cost savings, $6,250
Rationale: Implement summer school fees for credit recovery students to maintain this opportunity, $125 per course taken, and estimated based off prior year student count.
Impact of option: Some students may not be able to pay fees.
Review facility use policy: Cost savings, TBD
Rationale: Increase facility usage fees to reimburse district costs.
Impact of option: May limit usage of schools to community groups.
Increase athletic participation fees: Cost savings, $22,000
Rationale: Increase sport fee from $50 to $75 and remove 3rd sport is free policy, and estimated on 16/17 athletic counts.
Impact of option: May limit number of athletes for multiple sports, and some students may not be able to pay the higher fee to play.
Lamar Township school: Cost savings, TBD
Rationale: Auction surplus stored in school, sell school, need appraisal, and proceeds in fund 32 for capital projects per school code
Impact of option: District needs to address storage issues and surplus process.
District advertising opportunities: Cost savings, TBD
Rationale: Explore advertising opportunities in buildings, stadium and website.