District considers drastic cuts to address budget 'crisis'
Updated On: Mar 28 2012 06:11:28 AM CDT
Officials in the Reading School District call it one of the worst financial situations they've ever seen.
The district announced Monday night it is facing an estimated $53 million deficit for the 2012-2013 school year.
The budget gap is being called conservative, but district officials said things like overspending, retirement benefits and rising costs now have them left trying to fill the hole.
"The pieces that are problematic also is the lack of revenue and a lot of that has to do with the governor's new budget," said J. Drue Miles, the district's acting superintendent.
The district is up against an estimated $11 million shortfall by the end of this school year.
"If we are able to eliminate the deficit for this year then certainly it lowers it again for next year," said Miles.
Some drastic steps being considered are closing four gateway schools and one elementary school, freezing wages, cutting middle school athletics, laying off teachers and making kindergarten a half-day.
"We're going to have to look through and comb through each alternative to see what we can do and how we close that gap," said Yvonne Stroman, the school board president.
That means possibly raising taxes by 2.8% and dipping into the district's reserve fund. Drastic cuts are inevitable, and the district has at least 24 suggestions for ways to save, officials said.
"We have a number of things in which to choose from. I don't like the menu at all, but it's what we have and it's what our reality speaks to," said Stroman.
The next budget meeting is set for April 4.
Copyright 2012 WFMZ. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
Police: Trooper accidentally killed by fellow Trooper
Police: Eric Frein spotted, explosives found
Gnat invasion bugging many residents
Game Commission bans hunting in manhunt search area
New details emerge about teacher's aide accused of driving rampage
Search for Eric Frein remains a dangerous operation
Man killed in Northampton Co. motorcycle crash
Life Lessons: 5 bizarre weight loss tricks
Search for Eric Frein focuses along Rt. 447 in Monroe County
School bus driver cited for careless driving following crash