Five-year forecast shows deficits for 2021 and 2022

EAST LIVERPOOL — The five-year forecast approved Monday night by the city school board shows deficits the last two years, which will occur if an existing levy is not renewed.

The board made little comment on the forecast prepared by Treasurer Kathy Jo Laughlin, passing it 5-0 along with other financial issues.

Laughlin was asked by board member Larry Walton about decreases in state income, and she said it has been falling but the district has regained some students it had formerly lost through open enrollment to other schools, which should mean some increase in revenue.

The main issue will be the need for voters to renew a 6.5-mill emergency operating levy in 2020 which generates more than $1 million annually for the district, Laughlin said in a report that she distributed along with the forecast.

Laughlin said the forecast shows deficits for 2021 and 2022 because it does not include the renewal since it is not certain at this point.

Salaries and benefits account for more than three-fourths of all district spending, and if enrollment should begin to fall, and drop significantly, which had been projected, Laughlin reported, “We would have to determine if the number of employees is appropriate for our budget.”

One area of concern, she said, is employee benefits, primarily health insurance, with a 7 percent annual increase being realized. She said the district’s third-party health insurance administrator recommended in 2012 a change in the preferred provider network to reduce costs for both the district and employees, but that change was never implemented after consultation with employee bargaining units.

Laughlin said this could be reviewed again during negotiations this year with any such changes going into effect in January 2018.

While the district has realized some stability in rates for liability, fleet and property insurance, it has seen an increase in other expenditures, such as property tax collection fees and audit costs, according to Laughlin, who said energy prices have been volatile in recent years so are an ongoing concern.

In other financial matters, the board approved a purchase order for Pusateri Excavating for $27,364.19 for emergency repair to the lift station at Patterson Field.

The expenditure was questioned by board member Richard Wolf, who asked, “Why do we have a lift station?” saying sewage in the municipality flows into the sewage plant at 23 feet and the facilities at Patterson Field should be tapped into that with no left station needed.

“Somebody’s going to have to sell me on it,” Wolf said.

When the board learned the work has already been done, member Patricia Persohn said if the work is done, it has to be paid for but said it would be nice if buildings and grounds Superintendent Sam Halstead could come to the next board meeting to explain the project.

Also approved for work already done was a then and now certificate for $6,215.35 for Sanford Plumbing for a roof drain.

In personnel matters, the board approved:

— The resignation of Catherine Reed as detention monitor at LaCroft Elementary

— Julie Voorhees as swim coach and math department chair; Dawn Pipo, academic team advisor; Suzanne Hoppel, science fair coordinator; Gerald Bartlett, debate team coach; Linda Goodballet-Ross, detention monitor, LaCroft; and Ryan C. Pugliano, seventh grade boys’ basketball.

A request by the junior class for the board to pay the cost of bus transportation to and from the prom this year was also approved. The prom will be held April 14 at SNPJ Recreation Center in Enon Valley, Pa. The cost was not reported by the board.

Superintendent Randy Taylor reported on recent parent-teacher conferences at all buildings, saying attendance was as good or better than past years with 243 parents at North; 315 at LaCroft; 211 at Westgate; and 667 at the junior-senior high.

He also reported a waiver day has been planned for Nov. 7 to allow the district leadership team to update the rest of the staff on what it has been doing, which will mean an extended Thanksgiving holiday for students.

The board’s next regular meeting will be at 6 p.m. Nov. 6, which is the first Monday of the month, a change from the normal second Monday, due to board members attending Capital Conference.