Forced to make cuts in the face of a projected shortfall of $1.3 million in state funding, the Panther Valley School Board adopted its final budget for the 2011-2012 school year at last night's meeting.

The budget stands at $22,984,872 and reflects a zero mill real estate tax increase. The vote to approve the budget was unanimous, although director Anthony Pondish was not in attendance.

The final budget includes 21 cuts and reductions, including the closing of the swimming pool and the elimination of the cross country, swim and golf teams, which saves the district a total of $80,000. Also getting cut are budgets for the after school tutoring program, PSSA coaches, and substitute teachers. Those cuts will save the district $130,000.

Cuts to band equipment repair and maintenance, computer supplies and equipment, field trips, and library books will save another $45,000. The district also plans to cut part-time workers by one hour to save $20,000, freeze the Teamster contract to save $25,000, cut one part-time custodian to save $16,000, cut the full-time elementary school disciplinarian to save $15,000, and save $60,000 by moving one elementary school teacher to fill the position created by the retirement of another.

These items, plus several others, will save the district $490,000 next school year. The district intends to dip into the fund balance to make up the difference. However, according to business manager Kenneth Marx, Jr., this is a practice that cannot continue.

The board also heard from Jamie Doyle, a senior managing consultant with Public Financial Management, Inc. Doyle recommended that the board consider refunding the 2006 bond series via a competitive Internet sale in order to save money, as interest rates are nearing historic lows.

The district is currently paying interest rates of 3.55 percent to 4.05 percent on the $26,932,000 principal. Doyle said that interest rates are currently as low as 0.75 percent.

"I come bearing good news in these troubled time," Doyle said.

The district could see a savings of approximately $187,000 with the refunding. Marx added that the refunding would be a "win" for the district and recommended proceeding with the proposed sale, "the sooner, the better."

Doyle said that the Internet sale will be completed prior to the board's July 21 meeting.