Parkland Press

Saturday, February 16, 2019

Salaries at top of budget

Wednesday, January 31, 2018 by SUSAN RUMBLE Special to The Press in Local News

Salaries, at $81.4 million, are the largest item in the proposed $180.3 million Parkland School District budget.

Benefits are second at $52.7 million.

In a budget presentation at the Jan. 23 school board meeting, Business Manager John Vignone reported the amount for salaries was helped along by a $200,000 attrition savings.

As most retirements have been announced, Vignone could calculate how much the district is likely to save as new teachers at the lower end of the salary scale replace long-term, higher paid staff.

He said for every new person hired, 79 cents is needed to cover benefits which include retirement costs, health insurance, Social Security, life insurance, unemployment compensation and disability.

While district payments to the Pennsylvania School Employees Retirement System are increasing again, the increase for 2018-19 is not as much as the previous year.

Health insurance will increase 4 percent over the present term.

“Last year it went down,” Vignone said. “Most plans are trending toward an 8 percent to 12 percent increase in premiums, so 4 percent is pretty good.”

The third highest 2018-19 budget item is debt service at $17.3 million. The figure includes a $500,000 transfer from the fund balance.

Vignone said for every $10 million borrowed, $500,000 to $600,000 of debt service is added to the budget.

Parkland planned to borrow about $10 million early this year. Half is for costs toward the new elementary school, while the remainder is directed to buses, technology and districtwide capital improvements.

The fourth largest budget category is tuition and transportation payments for Parkland residents enrolled at cyber, charter, private or alternative schools at $11.7 million.

The district is obligated to pay $11,533 for every traditional student and $23,121 for each special education student attending cyber or charter school, plus transportation.

At present, Parkland has 115 students registered at cyber schools and 161 at charters.

Vignone said he recently received news that two district students are starting at a new cyber school, which is an unanticipated expense.

Assistant Superintendent Dr. Rod Troutman recalled the Pennsylvania Charter School Law took effect in 1999.

“The state used to give us a percentage back,” Troutman said. “That was wiped out in 2011. We haven’t gotten one dime — not a penny back since then.

“You can see why it kind of worries us.”

Vignone said reimbursements from the state for education matters are unpredictable.

Some state money owed Parkland in 2016-17 is finally coming and will be included in the 2018-19 district budget, Vignone said.