The 2020-2021 Fox Chapel Area School District final budget calls for budgetary expenditures of $102,008,293. The decrease in expenditures over the 2019-2020 original budget is projected at -$1,794,781 or -1.73%. The final millage rate for 2020-2021 is 19.8686 mills which represents a 1.5% millage increase from the 2019-2020 school year. Each mill generates approximately $3.5 million for the school district.The School Board approved the 2020-2021 final budget at a special meeting June 29, 2020. The proposed final budget, passed at a special meeting May 27, 2020, was available on the district’s website as per the state-required public review period. Final budget information is available on the district’s website here.The 2020-2021 final budget reflects the following:• Budget reductions due to reassignment and attritional savings:
• Budget reductions include the elimination of two municipal police officers who serve as school resource officers at Fox Chapel Area High School and Dorseyville Middle School. These positions will be covered by the officers who are part of the district’s school police force.• The district’s Spanish Immersion pilot program will be paused for new students, and it will move forward with just the current class of rising second-graders.• A 6.2% increase in tuition costs (the amount the district pays for students to attend cyber schools, charter schools, and special education facilities, as well as the A.W. Beattie Career Center).• Increase in facilities costs and an $800,000 transfer to the Capital Projects Fund to cover the cost of capital improvement projects in line with the district’s five-year capital improvement plan.• Insurance premium increases of:
- Temporary reassignment of Act 93/administrative personnel to current O’Hara Elementary open administrative position.
- Not replacing a retiring member of the technology team.
- Realignment in staffing, specifically as it relates to the early retirement incentive from 2018.
- The facilitator of the Creativity and Literacy Program (CLP) will be a classroom teacher, and the CLP facilitator will be paid via a supplemental contract.
• The Public School Employees’ Retirement System (PSERS) employer contribution rate is set at 34.51% for 2020-2021.
- 2.5% for medical coverage
- 6% for dental coverage
- 7% for vision coverage
• Reductions have been made in expenditure line items, such as meals and refreshments, as well as supplies and equipment, and a freeze has been placed on non-regional conferences that are not paid for with external funds, such as federal programs or grant funds.• Reductions have been made in technology expenditures, such as temporarily reduced rates for various software licenses and changes in technology rotation plans.• A reduction has been made to summer programs because of the COVID-19 pandemic, and the district’s Summer Learning Academy will be online.
- This represents a 1.1% decrease in costs from 2019-2020.
- This accounts for 15.5% of the overall budget.
- The state reimburses 50% of the costs, which is included under the revenue section.
• COVID-19 and its economic impact for the current and future budget years is still widely unknown. However, the 2020-2021 budget anticipates a 94% collection rate of real estate taxes, lower than previous years, and reduced revenue from the collection of earned income taxes.• The contribution to PSERS continues to be a challenge for all school districts in Pennsylvania.
• Capital projects/construction:
- The employer contribution rate is set by PSERS trustees, not by the district.
- The district anticipates paying nearly $45 million in PSERS contributions over the next five years.
- As of 7/1/2019, the district had $8.7 million of the fund balance committed to PSERS.
- $1.5 million will be drawn down at the end of the 2019-2020 school year.
- $750,000 is planned to be drawn down in 2020-2021 to go toward balancing the budget.
- As of 7/1/2019, the district had $10.5 million of the fund balance assigned for capital projects.
- $1.8 million will be drawn down at the end of the 2019-2020 school year to cover costs associated with paving projects, security improvements, and Kerr construction.
- $1.5 million is planned to be drawn down in 2020-2021 for projects relating to the five-year capital improvement plan and the Fox Chapel Area High School paving project.
Gaming Funds Distribution• On May 1, 2020, the Pennsylvania Department of Education 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 $1,473,016.15.• The method of distributing these funds, as prescribed by Act 1, the Taxpayer Relief Act, will be via the implementation of the homestead exclusion.
• The owners of the qualifying properties in the district will receive the equivalent of a $188.13 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 2020.• 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.
- 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 $9,468.74 of its taxable value, excluded for the purposes of calculating school district real estate taxes for the 2020 tax year.