Erie School Board Faces $5 Million Deficit - WICU12 HD WSEE Erie, PA News, Sports, Weather, Events

Erie School Board Faces $5 Million Deficit

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For the fourth year in a row, the Erie School District is dealing with a budget deficit.

Tonight, during the Erie School Board meeting at East High School, Erie School District Superintendent Jay Badams announced that the budget is $5 million out of balance.

Despite that deficit, the superintendent remains optimistic.

"It seems kind of strange to be saying that we're glad that we're $5 million out of balance, but that's significantly less than what it has been in the last four years," said Dr. Badams.  "This year, we are in the better position of being only $5 million out of balance, instead of $9 million how we were last year, $13 million the year before, and $26 million in the 2011 budget.  So it's a much more solvable problem this time around."

According to Dr. Badams, a major contributor to the deficit this year-- pension obligations for teacher salaries and benefits.  Dr. Badams said that those payments alone, will cost the district about $1.3 million.

According to Dr. Badams, two-thirds of the district's budget comes from Harrisburg, while the remaining comes from property taxes.  As of now, it's unclear if the district will raise taxes.  But, the school board approved a resolution, agreeing to stay under the tax ceiling set the state's property tax relief law known as Act 1, which is the most that they can charge without a referendum from the state.

"If the board were to raise taxes up to the index, we would be able to raise less than $1 million," said Dr. Badams.  "So we feel we can reduce our expenses, make some important trade-offs, and we're even looking at restoring some programs that we previously cut, and then reducing expenses elsewhere in the budget."

The school board now has until May to balance the budget.

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