Lehigh Valley

Parkland School Board calls on legislature to provide funding for basic education

SOUTH WHITEHALL TWP., Pa. - The Parkland School Board took a strong stance this Tuesday urging the Commonwealth to provide funding for basic education in what they claim has been a yearly struggle.

"Here we go again with the Commonwealth unknown," said Board President Roberta Marcus, of the uncertainty of the impending state budget.

"Every year we have to wait and ask for what is needed as basic education funding, emphasis on basic," she said. "[It] should be basic and easy to do."

At this Tuesday's School Board meeting, Parkland again heard a presentation by Director of Business Administration John Vignone on the status of the 2014-15 budget, which currently projects to create a $1,768,331 deficit that will keep the district below the Act 1 index for millage increase.

If projected correctly, this will result in a 2.1 percent millage increase, bringing the yearly rate from 13.83 to 14.12.

This though, according to Vignone, is contingent on the Commonwealth's ability to provide its constitutionally mandated funding for education in the upcoming budget.

"There's a third partner we need," said Vignone. "The state needs to be a part of this. It needs to provide some funding."

President Marcus stressed the importance of the state legislature's duty.

"Their education is at the core of our democracy…it is at the core of our economy," she said. ""We here at Parkland know how to be accountable for that right."

At last Tuesday's meeting the board projected expenditures of $152,706,253 and a revenue of $145,437,922.

With fund balance appropriation and capital reserve transfers to the tune of 4.5 million that balances out to the aforementioned 1.8 million projected deficits.

"This is a snapshot of where we are right now…as of March 25" said Vignone. "A lot can change, [there's] lots of uncertainties."

Along with the uncertainty of the state budget, Vignone said that additional variables include negotiations with unions, local revenue trends and Pennsylvania's PlanCon Part H reimbursement plans.

"As of now we haven't received a penny of that" said Vignone of the reimbursement owed to them by the state, which he estimated at $100,000 per year. "That's over 20 years," he added.

The Parkland School Board will next discuss the budget at a seminar on April 25th, before seeking to adopt the budget in late June.

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