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Less grant money means more headaches for Reading School District

By Greg Didyoung, WFMZ.com Reporter, news@wfmz.com
Published On: Apr 17 2013 04:21:03 AM CDT
Reading SD budget workshop
READING, Pa. -

Facing a projected 10 percent decrease in federal grant funding for the 2013-14 fiscal year, the Reading School District discussed how grant cuts could lead to layoffs during their second of three planned budget workshops Tuesday night.

"It is projected that at least 40 positions will be adversely impacted by reductions in federal funding," said the district's Chief Financial Officer Robert Peters. Peters explained that the anticipated cuts don't necessarily mean 40 people will lose their jobs, but rather, the funding for those positions will have to come elsewhere.

With Reading facing a nearly $8 million budget deficit next year, finding the funding to keep the positions won't be easy.

"A few years back the state gave out stimulus money to keep budgets balanced. The positions in question were funded from this additional money. However, once you start funding positions solely on grant money you have to go with the cash flow. Now that the federal government is going into a cut mode, we must follow," Peters explained.

The workshop presentation showed how federal grant cuts contribute to the district's anticipated multimillion dollar budget gap. Officials project the school to get nearly $208 million in revenue to fund a $216 million budget for the 2013-14 fiscal year. To make up the gap, the district said they are looking for areas that could be reduced or even eliminated without affecting student’s education.

Although the exact amount of federal grant cuts won't be known until May, Peters said it's important to look at grant reductions to see how they will "impact that district's choices" as it begins the process of creating a balanced budget.

The District's third and final budget workshop will cover local and state expenditures to see what steps need to be taken to fill the gap.

The date has of that meeting has yet to be announced but those wishing to attend can check the district's website for the latest updates.