School district expects tight federal purse strings

The Williamsport Area School District presented preliminary revenue figures Tuesday as it continues to look at its 2013-14 school year budget.

“The governor is proposing an increase (in basic education subsidy),” Business Manager Jeffrey Richards told the school board.

Richards said if Gov. Tom Corbett’s budget was passed as proposed, the district would see an increase of about $353,000 in the basic education subsidy. But Richards said he heard that the increase in basic education is tied into the proposed state pension reform.

“So if nothing goes through, we won’t see that much (of an increase),” he said after the meeting.

Without pension reform, districts also would see increased required contributions. The rate is set to increase more than 4 percent in 2013-14. And in the coming years, it will go to 30 percent.

“Unless we get pension reform we’re going to be stuck with 30 percent for a number of years,” Richards said.

The district again will be without charter school funding from the state, Richards reported. He said the district previously received somewhere between 15 percent to 30 percent of tuition of students who attended those institutes, which districts pay. That funding ceased during the 2011-12 school year, Richards said.

The district will see about $6,300 in additional real estate dollars if the millage is to remain the same as 2012-13.

On the federal level, Richards said because of sequestration the district could lose $200,000.

“We’re seeing some decreases in federal (funding),” Richards told the board.

Richards added that he will continue to monitor the budget as the year goes on and will give a presentation on preliminary cost figures in April.

In other business, the board received an update on its middle school construction project.

Jeff Angstadt, project manager, said the final geothermal well had been drilled recently. He added that light fixtures and drywall are being installed in parts of the building.

But a retaining wall behind the building is experiencing some problems with the wet weather, Angstadt said.

Despite that, work remains on schedule.

“We’re doing good with the schedule,” Angstadt said.