The Williamsport Area School Board just completed a budget season full of tough decisions.
The results were a small tax hike $32.59 a year on an average value property in the district - and 35 staff cuts. With the cuts, 15 teachers lost their jobs and 20 support staff positions were eliminated.
As the summer goes on and teachers accept other jobs, go back to school or move, some of those furloughed will be called back.
No matter what the complete fallout is, this clearly was a tough budget season for the region's largest school district. And in our view, the difficult equation between revenues and expenses was handled about as well and rationally as possible by both the administration and the school board.
As Superintendent Dr. Kathleen Kelley correctly summarized, "Everyone is not happy . . . for the number that we furloughed, but it could have been worse."
The district worked closely with the teachers union in coordinating and communicating the furloughs, using seniority, certifications and classifications to determine who would be eliminated.
Perhaps the district and teachers union should take what appears to be a healthy, respectful relationship to the next level. That would involve fundamental changes in the salary, benefits and pension plans for teachers and administrators.
Because, until that happens, there will be budget problems each year. The cost of salaries, benefits and pensions set against the district's revenue stream of state allocations, taxes and other items doesn't match up for the long-term future.
The only result possible will be more of what we saw this year an administration and school board forced to make very difficult personnel decisions that eventually will have an impact on the instructional product.
The administration and school board did a good job with a tough assignment this budget season. Fundamental changes in contracts that change future salary, benefit and pension obligations to a more realistic level would be the next step.
Not easy stuff. But perhaps inevitable.