Board reviews expenses

HUGHESVILLE – Several East Lycoming School Board members voiced their concerns regarding constraints on the district’s proposed $21,885,478 budget Tuesday night.

The district’s preliminary budget for the 2013-14 school year reflects an 0.67 mill increase in real estate taxes.

“We’re hoping to get that number down to about 0.27 mills, but we’re still moving the numbers around,” said David L. Maciejewski, business manager for the district.

Funding student’s educations at cyber and charter schools is one of the district’s major expenses, according to Maciejewski.

“We’re anticipating that the district will spend about $500,000 to fund charter school tuition,” Maciejewski said.

For Superintendent Michael Pawlik, this is a frustrating expense.

“According to the Department of Education, there wasn’t a single cyber school who met the benchmarks for annual yearly progress this year,” Pawlik said.

“That’s $450,000 of our district’s money that went to funding a student’s education, which I believe is of lesser quality than the education they could have received here within the East Lycoming School District,” he said.

Pawlik added that the way cyber and charter schools are dolled out, funding is based on the cost to educate a student at a brick-and-mortar school, rather than in an online format.

“Cyber schools especially have a lower overhead. Yet regular schools are forced to pay them what it cost us to educate a student here for one year, rather than the cost it takes them to provide an online education to that student,” Pawlik said.

He added that it costs the district about $11,000 a year to educate one student.

The other major expenditure on the budget is the cost of insurance and retirement funding, according to Maciejewski.

The district is having an insurance consultant come in to meet with member of the finance committee to review the district’s insurance policy.

“We can expect big changes to happen with insurance soon. Maybe not all of them will be good, but either way, they’re coming,” said Richard Michael, board president.