Local school budget numbers may be indicative of trend

The early estimates of revenues and costs for the Williamsport Area School District’s 2014-15 budget are not encouraging.

There’s a $2.5 million gap between the projected costs of $83 million and revenues of $80.5 million.

The board voted to apply for Act 1 exceptions. If approved by the state and used by the board, the exemptions would allow real-estate taxes to be raised above the Act 1 index that limits the amount of tax hikes.

The only good news, if you can call it good news, is that the budget gap was $3.5 million at this point last year.

We suspect Williamsport will not be the only school district facing adversity this school budget season. The age-old quandary of trying to produce quality education in our public schools while responsibly guarding the load put on already strapped taxpayers never fades away.

As the school board was grasping its budget task, Gov. Tom Corbett was proposing a new “truer, fairer” public education funding formula.

It’s hard to assess the plusses and minuses of such a formula without some details but we have long suspected that the rural districts of the region don’t always get equal attention when it comes to any number of public education issues, including funding. But it would be unwise for any local school district to count on gifts from the state bailing them out of budget problems.

Strict discipline in budget formulation with an eye toward maintaining educational integrity, with no eye toward extra help from the state, is the pragmatic course for all school districts in the region.