Shikellamy School District - Budget

Budget

In May and June 2011, the school board approved a $36.2 million budget for 2011-12 that closes the two antiquated middle schools effective July 2011, that froze administration pay and that reduced staffing by 24 positions. Beginning in 2011-12, the sixth grades will remain at the elementary schools, while seventh and eighth grades will be provided at the high school. The high school has been overstaffed, according to Superintendent Robin Musto, with 24 teachers not working a full teaching schedule and having 2 or more planning periods each day. Additionally, class size at the high school has been as low as 9 pupils for 15% of the classes, while many classes have 10-15 students. According to the Pennsylvania Department of Education, enrollment in the Shikellamy School District has declined 12.5% over the past five years, to a low of 2800 pupils. In 2006, the enrollment was reported by the administration as 3200 pupils.

In 2008, the district reported a $3,322,311 in an unreserved-undesignated fund balance. The designated fund balance was reported as zero.

The Shikellamy School Board set the budget at $34.62 million for 2007-2008. The board levies a variety of taxes to support its programs. Taxes include 62.5 mills real estate tax in 2007. Per capita taxes are $5 per resident. An occupational tax, which charges a set amount based on job title, earns approximately $1.7 million. Many see this tax as particularly unfair, as people classified in the same job title often earn vastly different amounts, but pay the same amount of tax. An earned income tax of one-half of 1 percent of income yields a revenue of approximately $1.8 million. Additionally, the real estate transfer tax of one-half percent (Northumberland Borough, Point Township, Rockefeller Township) and one percent (Snydertown borough) is levied on real estate transfers.

In 2007, the district employed 204 teachers. The average teacher salary in the district was $48,795 for 184 days worked. In March 2010, the school board and the Shikellamy teachers' union agreed to a new 5 year employment contract. The school year will be extended by one day to 185 days and the teachers will be receiving an average 3% annual pay raise on top of step raises for longevity and extra course credits earned. As of 2007, Pennsylvania ranked in the top 10 states in average teacher salaries. When adjusted for cost of living Pennsylvania ranked fourth in the nation for teacher compensation.

The district administrative costs per pupil were $587.43 in 2008. The lowest administrative cost per pupil in Pennsylvania was $398 per pupil. In 2010 the school board hired Robin Musto as Superintendent. Ms Musto retired unexpectedly after a brief leave due to illness.

In 2008, the district reported spending $11,130 per pupil. This ranked 387th in the commonwealth.

In 2009, the district reported having over $27 million in outstanding debt in General Obligation bonds.

Voters rejected a tax referendum in May 2007 which would have increased local earned income tax by 0.5 percent to reduce property taxes for homeowners and farmers by $176.

In December 2010, the Pennsylvania Auditor General conducted a performance audit of the district. The findings were reported to the board and administration.

The district is funded by a combination of: a local income tax, a property tax, a real estate transfer tax 0.5%, coupled with substantial funding from the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and the federal government. Grants can provide an opportunity to supplement school funding without raising local taxes. In the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, pension income and Social Security income are exempted from state personal income tax and local earned income tax regardless of the individual's level of wealth.

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