Cherry Hill schools say they will close money gap with spending freeze, not staff cuts

Posted: February 14, 2013

Cherry Hill school officials said this week that they planned to close an anticipated $650,000 budget shortfall by freezing spending, which would eliminate a need for staff cuts.

The freeze, in place across the district, will allow the district to carry over enough money from the current $171 million budget to fill the hole, officials said at a board meeting Tuesday night.

"We are pretty confident, with our numbers, we will be in relatively good shape by the end of the year," assistant superintendent Jim Devereaux said.

The freeze would stop any new purchase orders as well as some professional development for staff, spokeswoman Susan Bastnagel said.

But it won't cause any shortage in paper and pencils. "If it's necessary to day-to-day teaching, we still buy it," Devereaux said.

The district has been expecting a six-figure shortfall even with a 2 percent increase in the levy - the most the budget can rise without triggering a vote by taxpayers. Officials previously said cuts to staff or programs would be likely be needed.

While that no longer appears to be the case, the district will delay until June about $600,000 worth of capital spending - including repairs to the gym entrance at Cherry Hill High School West, Devereaux said.

Superintendent Maureen Reusche will also prepare a list of proposed cuts in the event state aid to districts is reduced, which will not be known until after Gov. Christie gives his budget address Feb. 26. State aid accounted for 7 percent of Cherry Hill's budget last year.

Reusche said Tuesday she was already confronting the prospect of future tight budgets, considering ways to raise money - including SAT-preparation and college essay courses.

"We're not going to wait" to pursue longer-term solutions, Reusche said.


Contact Maddie Hanna at 856-779-3232 or mhanna@phillynews.com.

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