He explained the $602,000 has been included as part of the new budget, so it’s very important that the money comes through. “The Commonwealth has to be a partner here. The state has to be a player and help us out. That needs to happen.”

Other challenges

Sniscak named several other challenges facing the district.

He said special education funding from the state has remained level for six consecutive years, “which equates to a decrease in funding.”

He said the district will be paying $2.1 million for cyber and charter schools in the next school year, a cost that impacts local taxpayers.
“If we had this additional $2.1 million in Parkland School District, it would mitigate our need for a tax increase.”

And he said Parkland also faces rising health care costs, increased state-mandated contributions toward pensions and a two-year contract with teachers that will expire in August.

Salaries and employee benefits make up nearly 73 percent of the district’s new budget, according to figures Vignone shared with the school board.

The 2014-15 budget is 6 percent larger than the 2013-14 budget, which totaled more than $143.5 million.

Drawing from fund balance

Vignone said the district plans to use $4.5 million in its fund balance to help balance the 2014-15 budget. He said an additional $1 million from the fund balance will go into a capital reserve fund.

Vignone said the district still will have at least $18.2 million in its fund balance reserves, but he added a lot of that money is designated for pension and health care costs.

He said $18.2 million “may sound healthy” but could be gone quickly with the way pension and health care costs are climbing.

Other business

Also during the meeting, the school board honored 11 teachers from throughout the district as Technology Integrators – “teachers for the 21st Century.”

The teachers were recommended by their building principals “for their achievements in infusing technology seamlessly into the learning process.”

They are Kelly Casey of Fogelsville Elementary, Brian Ding of Parkland High School, Candace Lewis of Cetronia Elementary, Noel Mahmood of Springhouse Middle School, Debra Nagy of Schnecksville Elementary, Debra Newhard of Kernsville Elementary, Wendy Rice of Ironton Elementary, Janiel Spisak of Parkway Manor Elementary, Melissa Waring of Kratzer Elementary, David Whitby of Jaindl Elementary and Danielle Williams of Orefield Middle School.

All but two of the educators attended the school board meeting.

The board also recognized Jacob Wilkinson, a Parkland High junior who was named a winner in the 2014 National Association for Music Education’s student composition contest.

Wilkinson was one of only 12 students chosen nationwide and the only one from Pennsylvania to receive the honor. He wrote a sonata for clarinet and piano.

The teen is an advanced placement music theory student at the high school.