Union Township schools may see teacher cuts
By James D. Wolf Jr. Post-Tribune correspondent January 12, 2013 10:54PM
Updated: February 14, 2013 6:35AM
Cuts are coming at Union Township Schools, including teaching positions.
The School Board last week heard that for the coming 2013 school year the state will pay $437,568 less into the school district’s general fund compared to this past year. The general fund is where money comes from for daily operations, including salaries and utilities.
Superintendent John Hunter told board members he has a list of possible cuts, and those include teachers, coaches and teaching-area positions.
“Part of that will be due to decreased enrollment in some grade levels,” Hunter said.
He declined to specify which positions might be reduced.
Other budget funds will finance expenses the general fund traditionally pays for.
Since 2008, the state has been funded school general funds by sales taxes instead of through local property taxes.
“Obviously, this year we need to reduce our programs or pay things in a different way,” Hunter said.
Part of paying things in a different way is to use the rainy day fund — a fund for emergency work and sudden needs — to pay for utilities.
At Wednesday’s meeting, the board moved $50,000 left in the capital projects fund and $150,000 left in the transportation fund into the rainy day fund.
For 2013, those funds will also have less money in them than in 2012, as will the bus replacement fund.
Property taxes pay for those funds, so property taxes should decrease by 21.41 cents per $100 assessed valuation because of those reductions.
Hunter noted that the referendum that the board approved last month would raise property taxes by about the same amount, no more than 22 cents per $100 assessed valuation.
If the referendum passes, it would return taxes to the same level. The referendum would pay for school programs and last from 2014 to 2020 if passed.
The school district has other concerns about its finances. It’s a standard rule in the business of education to retain 8 percent of the general fund at year’s end to pay for unexpected expenses, whether emergencies or tax money not coming in.
“An 8 percent should get you through a month of payroll,” Hunter said.
Last year, the school had only a 7 percent cushion in what Hunter likened to a “savings account.”
This year, the cash balance is 4.28 percent. “Which is the reason we are considering other sources of revenue,” Hunter said. “We have tried to maintain programs for our kids.”