2019-2020 Proposed Final Budget
The 2019-2020 Fox Chapel Area School District proposed final budget calls for budgetary expenditures of $103,873,087. The increase in expenditures over the 2018-2019 original budget is projected at $514,477 or 0.5 percent. The proposed final millage rate for 2019-2020 is 19.5750 mills and there is no increase in millage from the 2018-2019 school year. One mill will equal approximately $3.5 million.
The School Board approved the 2019-2020 proposed final budget at its combined agenda study session and regular business meeting May 6, 2019. The Board will discuss the proposed final budget at its meetings June 3 in the O’Hara Elementary School auditorium and June 10 in the high school large group instruction room. The Board is expected to pass the final 2019-2020 budget at its June 10 meeting, and residents are invited to attend all Board meetings which begin at 7 p.m.
The 2019-2020 proposed final budget reflects the following:
•New Kerr Elementary building and programs:
•28 professional staff to retire between 7/1/19 and 6/30/20 as part of the Early Retirement Incentive (ERI):
–Resulting in 28 one-time severance payments
–Increases the Other Post-Employment Benefit (OPEB) account for retiree health care that is offered
–Not all positions will be replaced with a new hire, but those that are will be replaced with a professional employee on the lower end of the salary scale, and, therefore, future savings are anticipated. Other positions are planned to be replaced with existing employees by optimal schedule configurations.
•Insurance premium increases:
–1.9% medical insurance
–2% dental insurance
–7% vision insurance
•Public School Employees’ Retirement System (PSERS) employer contribution rate set at 34.29% for 2019-2020:
–3% increase in cost from 2018-2019
–Accounts for 15% of overall budget
–The state reimburses 50% of the costs, which is included under the revenue section
•Increased safety and security costs due to additional safety measures
–Enhanced security construction planned for all building and athletic entrances
•PSERS continues to be a challenge for all school districts in Pennsylvania:
–Employer contribution rate is set by the PSERS trustees, not by the district
–The district anticipates paying nearly $45 million in PSERS contributions over the next five years
–As of 7/1/2018, the district had $9.5 million of fund balance committed to PSERS:
-$750,000 is to be drawn down at the end of the 2018-2019 school year
-$750,000 is planned to be drawn down in 2019-2020 to go toward balancing the budget
–New Kerr building is opening for the 2019-2020 school year
-Financing for this project, as well as construction at O’Hara and Fairview elementaries, was provided through a bond issue in 2017. The district has begun repayments for this issue, reflected under debt service in the budget.
•As of 7/1/2018, the district had $11.2 million of fund balance assigned for capital projects.
–$992,000 is to be drawn down at the end of the 2018-2019 school year to cover costs associated with technology for the new Kerr building, as well as costs associated with flooding and mold issues at Kerr Elementary, Fox Chapel Area High School, and administration offices in summer/fall of 2018
–$254,100 is planned to be drawn down in 2019-2020 for security improvements
•Early Retirement Incentive (ERI):
–By 6/30/2020, 54 professional staff will have retired as part of the incentive
–Not all positions will be replaced with a new hire, but those that are will be replaced with a professional employee on the lower end of the salary scale. Other positions are planned to be replaced with existing employees by optimal schedule configurations.
–The district anticipates savings relating to this incentive to begin to show in the 2020-2021 budget
Gaming Funds Distribution
•On May 2, 2019, the Pennsylvania Department of Education (PDE) provided the Fox Chapel Area School District with the amount of the district’s share of gaming funds available for distribution.
•The proposed final budget includes a distribution of $1,471,950.18.
•The method of distributing these funds, as prescribed by Act 1, the Taxpayer Relief Act, will be via the implementation of the homestead exclusion.
–Under this provision, any property in the school district that was approved by Allegheny County as a homestead will have the lesser of its taxable value, or an estimated $9,602.30 of its taxable value, excluded for the purposes of calculating school district real estate taxes for the 2019 tax year.
•The owners of the qualifying properties in the district will receive the equivalent of a $187.97 reduction in their property taxes.
•Property owners who currently do not have an approved homestead exclusion will have the opportunity to apply again when the district sends out letters to those homeowners in December 2019.
•These calculations are based on Allegheny County’s certification that there are 7,844 qualifying properties in the Fox Chapel Area School District. The reduction amount may change if the county adjusts those numbers.