Although Loyalsock Township School District was forced to use unassigned fund balance to balance its budget for the second straight year, the public applauded as eight paraprofessionals did not see their positions cut from full-time to part-time Wednesday.
The budget - which saw a deficit of $128,049 before using the fund balance - was approved by the school board on a 7-2 vote.
Gerald McLaughlin, business manager, said the budget includes a 0.25-mill increase to real estate taxes and two furloughs - one physical education teacher and one family and consumer science teacher.
But the audience broke out into applause when McLaughlin said the district reinstated eight paraprofessionals back to full-time employees. Residents have been vocal in their support for the paraprofessionals during recent board meetings.
Board President Edward Ade Jr. said the decision to restore the positions came after a recent finance committee meeting.
"This decision was not made in haste or in reaction to any specific public presentation," Ade read from a prepared statement.
He also said the district and board gathered data from other districts and sought information from professionals. He said it was a difficult decision, as there was no "apples-to-apples comparison."
The district decided to take the proposed paraprofessional cuts off the budget after considering all of the student body.
"Consideration was given to the overall effect on all students and the functionality of the entire classroom," Ade said.
Having received more revenue than expected, the district also decided it could "sustain this expense for one more year."
Ade also said every program and position will be closely reviewed each year, as the district doesn't expect the economy to get any better.
"During each budget year, the district will evaluate closely programs, functions and positions at all levels. As positions open due to retirements, resignations or the elimination of services and programs, this board will seek the most cost-effective methods to guarantee a thorough and efficient education for all students in the Loyalsock Township School District," Ade concluded.
Although David Hornberger, board member, agreed "100 percent with putting (the paraprofessionals) back in (the budget)," the deficit troubled him.
"That's where I disagree with the budget," he said.
Hornberger added that he doesn't want to see the district continue to bring a deficit to the board when voting on a final budget, as it has the past two years.
"I don't think that's the road we want to go down," he said.
After the meeting, McLaughlin said each district has an unassigned fund balance, which can be used as needed.
"It can be used for (a number) of things and we're hoping that we can make it up as the school year goes," McLaughlin said.