Upper Adams School District (UASD) Business Administrator Shelley Hobbs began the school board’s discussion on the 2021-22 budget by focusing on its salary and benefits aspects, saying “these are the parts of the budget we can control.”
Hobbs noted benefits paid to employees through the Pennsylvania Public Schools Employee Retirement System (PSERS) system had increased by 26 percent over the past 11 years and had created an increase in $1.5M in expenses for the district since 2015.
“If you ever had a company or worked in finance somewhere, if you look at these numbers they should shock you,” said Board President Tom Wilson. “This is an enormous burden on the finances of the district. To go up 26 percent in like 10 years is beyond the pale.”
“There are going to be some difficult decisions ahead of us,” said Wilson. “There’s not a lot of wiggle room.”
Hobbs said expenses due to the pandemic and charter schools were worrisome and that state contributions would likely be flat for the second year in a row.
Hobbs said the situation would become clearer over the next month as more data comes from the state.
Board member Christopher Fee said the school board has to play an “elaborate guessing game” every year to figure out how much financing will come from the state.
Hobbs said the district would also have to pay for increases in third party online learning funds, noting the district was about $62K short but that savings on electricity and travel could help offset this difference.
Doll noted the discussion was part of a multi-step project. “This is far from an approved budget”
The board approved the June 30th audit and voted to limit any 2021-22 tax increases to a maximum of 4.2% following the state the Act 1 policies.
Board member Susan Crouse said the Canner Funds had received about $17,000 from the Giving Spree. “We are very thankful to all our donors,” she said.
Doll said there were four more positive COVID cases in the district during the week of January 17, in addition to three the week prior to that. “We will continue to look at these numbers.” “There could be a period of closure at some time,” he said.
Doll said teachers and families were all doing a great job and that the school was doing its best to stay open. “It’s a team effort,” he said.
The district accepted with “extreme regret” the retirement of Mitzy Orner, school district instructional librarian, after 26 years of service
The district updated its athletic health and safety plan regarding face masks and social distancing to comply with league and state policies, and also voted to allow some spectators at winter sports events. The new policy follows state and league guidelines and would allow about 100 spectators at most events.
School Director Recognition Month
In celebration of School Director Recognition Month, Doll thanked each of the board members individually for their contributions. “It’s a challenging job with no pay,” he said.
Doll said directors are mandated to take courses and they have a lot of homework to do to prepare for meetings. “Directors help develop policy and oversee and approve the school budget It’s a distinct honor,” said Doll.
Doll noted that board members Lady, Hollabaugh, Crouse, and Ponte were all up for reelection this year. “I certainly hope each of you are going to run for office again. We enjoy having you here. We look forward to suppoting you during this election,” said Doll.
The next regular school board meeting is Feb. 16 at 7:00 p.m.