The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA

March 15, 2013

Retirements will save Lewisburg Area School District about $415,000

By Evamarie Socha
The Daily Item

— LEWISBURG — The departure of 10 teachers — nine by retirement and one by resignation — has reduced the Lewisburg Area School District’s 2013-14 budget deficit to just under $300,000. It had been slightly more than $700,000.

All but two of the teachers will be replaced, either by teachers already in Lewisburg’s system or by new hires, Superintendent Mark DiRocco said during Thursday’s school board meeting.

The departing teachers’ salary information, presented at the meeting, was listed as a “gross total,” which likely includes salaries and benefits.

One retiring teacher, whose position won’t be filled, was listed at nearly $114,000. Of the 10 teachers, eight are listed as having a “gross total” amount of at least $104,000.

Eight positions will be filled by teachers at a “masters 5 level” of $78,068. Masters 5 means a person has a five-year advanced degree in teaching.

The deficit was last marked at $702,469. The difference in salaries for the eight incoming teachers would result in a savings of $415,752, DiRocco told the board, reducing the deficit to $286,717.

The Kelly Elementary School’s summer school program subsequently was added to the budget at a cost of $10,000, so the deficit stands at $296,717.

The school board approved advertising the positions.

There is a chance the deficit could come down substantially more — to $65,270, DiRocco said — but that reduction rides on the outcome of the state General Assembly’s actions on proposals from Gov. Tom Corbett.

“We simply don’t know” what the legislators may do about Corbett’s proposals, which include revamping the state employee retirement system, he said. Corbett vowed that if his changes aren’t accepted, schools would not see the benefits.

Among them would be an increase to the basic education subsidy, which for Lewisburg would equal $78,755. Another is a reduction in the school district’s contribution to the state’s Public School Employees’ Retirement System. If it goes through, that would save the school district $157,750.

Because the deficit has dropped so much, the school board has the option of not raising real estate taxes as much as anticipated, DiRocco said. The school district is seeking exceptions to help offset costs, and at one point, administrators could see real estate taxes increasing by up to 5.5 percent. The district has never used all its granted exceptions.

DiRocco warned the board that there already are some known figures for the 2014-15 budget, including a 4.5 percent increase in the PSERS contribution and a health care increase of 10 percent, equaling about $645,000.

The school board last month approved a preliminary budget of $29.4 million for the 2013-14 school year.