Slippery Rock School District’s 2020-21 budget has a deficit of $353,000.

Paul Cessar, the district’s business manager and school board secretary, gave a brief presentation Monday night (April 6) during the school board’s work session, which was held via conference call.

Cessar said he plans to present more details about the 2020-21 preliminary budget at the board’s April 20 meeting using a video platform so that meeting participants will be able to view the figures he will discuss.

Current budget projections indicate that the district would need to raise property taxes by 2.52 mills to cover the deficit, Cessar said.

The board needs to take a hard look at what can be cut out of the budget, especially since negotiations are ongoing for the teachers’ union and the economy is in decline due to the COVID-19 pandemic, board member Greg Angerett said.

“This isn’t a good time to tell everybody they owe more taxes,” he said.

Property taxes in the Slippery Rock Area School District are 99.77 mills. The rates went up by 1.96 mills for the 2019-20 budget.

School districts have until June 30 to pass a final budget under state law.

Cessar said he expects to see increases in retirement costs, tuition reimbursements and cyber school expenses. The district’s special education costs are project to decrease $88,000, which is likely from students who live in the district but attend other schools.

Expenses for the technology coordinator are going down by about $75,000 because that job is now a position within the district and not Midwestern Intermediate Unit IV, Cessar said.

Slippery Rock School Board discussed the following issues at its meeting Monday:

• Board Business Manager Paul Cessar read an email from parent Debbie Crum, who had questions and concerns about the online instruction platform that teachers are using with students for at-home classes. Crum said the process doesn't allow for sufficient communication between teachers and students, and that students are confused.

Crum also questioned the need for armed security guards employed by the district and how that issue should have been discussed during a public meeting.

Some security issues can be discussed during executive session, Superintendent Dr. Alfonso Angelucci said, with solicitor Michael Hnath adding that the hiring of the guards was voted on during a public meeting.

• Board members approved the first reading of policies 246, which covers school wellness; 249, bullying and cyberbullying; and procedures for Safe2Say, an system for students and community members to anonymously report potential future violent incidents.

• Board members approved an agreement with H.F. Lenz Company, an engineering firm that is handling the design and bid documents for paving at the elementary and middle school.

Board members also agreed to have Hnath and Cessar move forward with those two projects.

• Board members approved an agreement with Eckles Architecture and Engineering, New Castle, which has been leading a district-wide facility study. The agreement covers designs and bid documents should the board decide to move forward with renovations.

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