Board Considering 1 Percent Budget Cut

Posted: May 13, 1990

Downingtown Superintendent Ronald W. Gray said every department would be ''taking a whack" as he proposed $498,000 in budget cuts.

But some of the 100 residents who attended Wednesday's board meeting were not pleased that just 1 percent of the proposed $50 million 1990-91 school budget was being cut.

"I can't afford to keep my house with taxes going up this way," Downingtown resident Mike Bezek said. "We're handing out a 10 percent wage increase for teachers when the rest of us are getting 3 and 4 percent raises."

If approved, the $498,000 in cuts would reduce the expected tax increase

from 28.5 to 26.5 mills. Residents' property tax bills would increase by an

average of $265, according to business manager Alfred B. Guion.

The school board voted 6-2 to approve the preliminary budget on May 2. At the time, the board instructed the administration to recommend ways to further reduce the budget. The board did not vote on the proposed cuts during Wednesday's meeting.

Gray said the administrators spent a "difficult full day of internal negotiations" looking for additional cuts.

"No one area was not cut. Nothing was sacred," he said.

The administration recommended $151,000 be saved by cutting kindergarten bus service to one way. Another $91,000 in salary and benefit costs would be saved by not replacing assistant superintendent Daniel Jones when he replaces Gray, who has announced he is leaving his post, as superintendent in July. And $60,000 in salary and benefit costs would be saved by not replacing a secondary school teacher who is leaving.

Gray attributed a large portion of the tax increase to the reduction in state funding. About 16 mills in the 28-mill tax increase is the "legitamate responsibility of the state," he said.

Another 4 mills is needed to help pay for the construction of two elementary schools scheduled to open in September, Gray said.

"When you come down to it, there is not much left," he said.

The board approved a resolution opposing the reduction in state funding for special education and for the TELLS (Testing for Essential Learning and Literacy Skills) program, while still continuing to mandate the programs.

"The burden of responsibility is being placed on the local taxpayer," Gray said. "The property tax is an unfair tax. No one likes where we are, but something has to be done."

The board has scheduled a special budget meeting for May 30 at 7:30 p.m. in the Downingtown High School cafeteria. The final budget is scheduled to be voted on at the June 6 work session at 7:30 p.m. at the Brandywine-Wallace Elementary School.

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