Keystone renews task force to help with costs, budget

From staff reports

MILL HALL — Earlier this month, the Keystone Central School District held a meeting for members of last year’s citizen task force.

The topic: Moving forward with a new, revitalized task force to offer options to the school board on controlling costs.

The meeting was held the evening of Oct. 2, but it was not publicized, or apparently open to the public.

Business Manager Susan Blesh said the meeting was attended by approximately 20 people, and was mostly a review of what was accomplished and examined last year.

The meeting was held in the Central Mountain High School auditorium.

The meeting featured a discussion on how “the group would like to move forward,” Blesh said.

Last year’s task force met monthly for several months, and some groups reportedly spent extra time and effort communicating outside of regular meeting hours.

They presented their findings in a group presentation on Nov. 2, 2017.

Task Force groups were responsible for finding many palatable budgetary cuts, but some members also advocated for some more controversial ideas.

Originally, the combined task force was to attempt to find $10 million in cuts from the district’s then projected $82.3 million budget.

While some groups made — or surpassed — their goal, others fell short.

At the end of the day, however, the district’s budget for 2018-19 was reduced to $73.2 million.

While not all of the cuts are directly attributed to the task force, many of its recommendations found their way into the budget.

But there is still more ground to make up, as healthcare and pension costs to the district continue to rise — albeit at a slower rate than in past years, according to presentations Dr. Lonoconus made earlier in the year.

District sources told The Express that more information will be forthcoming at the school board’s next regular meeting, which will be held at 6:30 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 18, at Bucktail Area High School in Renovo.