03/28/19: Current budget shows surplus; next year’s deficit manageable

By Gary Weckselblatt

The Quakertown Community School District's 2018-19 budget has an estimated surplus of $3.5 million, Director Rob Diliberto, chairman of the Finance Committee, said at the March 28 Board meeting.

The $2 million sale of Milford Middle School and Tohickon Valley Elementary School, and the $580,000 saved from not having to demolish Milford account for most of the surplus. Funds from the sale of the schools is targeted to help offset borrowing costs for the Neidig Elementary School renovation project. Money budgeted for demolition will be placed in the fund balance.

The 2019-20 budget, still a work in progress, currently has a $1.7 million deficit. That's an improvement from the $2.5 million hole in late January. It is based on a 2.7 percent tax increase, the maximum allowable under the Act 1 index, the state's property tax law. The School Board agreed it would not seek exceptions for retirement and special education costs to go above the index for the 2019-20 school year.

The budget includes $400,000 for work to Ronald Reagan Blvd. that the District committed to approximately 20 years ago. If that's not needed next year, the operational deficit drops to $1.3 million.

"I'm very comfortable with where we're at right now," said Zach Schoch, the district's Chief Operating Officer. He said that under the leadership of Superintendent Dr. Bill Harner the district has historically been able to make up a $1 million deficit over the course of a year.

"We typically see that that's made up through either good financial decisions throughout the school year, and a lot of it comes through attrition," he said. "We feel pretty strongly we're in a good place right now."

On April 25, the Board will be voting on a Final Proposed Budget. The Final Budget is scheduled to be voted on June 6.

Gary Weckselblatt, QCSD Director of Communications, writes about the people and the programs that impact the Quakertown Community School District. He can be reached at 215-529-2028 or gweckselblatt@qcsd.org.

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