No tax increase.
Those three words spell big relief to the taxpayers in the Pleasant Valley School District.
At the June 28 school board meeting, the board of directors approved the new 2012-2013 final budget, 8-0, with board director Harvey Frable absent.
This means the millage will remain the same as last year at 146.016 and will maintain the current programming for the district's 6,000 students. The total budget is $92,511,437.
In a written statement from Dr. Douglas Arnold, PVSD superintendent, read by board president, Thomas Murphy, it states that the district used $4.6 million in fund balance to balance the budget.
The bad news is, that will mean there will be a need for a tax increase for the 2013-2014 school year.
"It is imperative to note that the board's ability to adopt a budget for 2012-2013 with no tax increase is not the result of any recent circumstance or the efforts of any particular board or administration or individual board member or administrator," Arnold's letter states. "Instead, it is the culmination of many years of prudent financial planning and the frugal use of resources, with a number of different boards and administrations making tough decisions when the need arose in order to preserve efficiency and cost-effectiveness while delivering a top-rate education to the children of Pleasant Valley."
The letter lists the ways that the district worked hard to contain costs, including reconfiguring the school district; refinancing bonds; subcontracting transportation; condensing and eliminating bus runs; securing grant monies; increasing ACCESS reimbursements; creating the PV Cyber Academy; creating the I.C.E. program; closing Eldred and Chestnuthill Elementary Schools and eliminating staff positions (a total of 83 professional, administrative and support staff positions over the past few years).
The district also saved by using in-house trainers for staff development; instituting a four-day summer workweek to save on utility costs; implementing in-house printing; joining purchasing consortia; stressing energy conservation (e.g., lighting, heating and cooling) including entering into a performance contract; and reducing paper consumption.
"Taking these steps and more has allowed the school district to create a financial situation whereby funds are available to lessen the impact of such deleterious circumstances as the continued shortfall in state funding," Arnold's letter said. He added that the board and administration will continue to look for additional ways to trim and/or contain costs throughout the school year.
Arnold ended by stating that "a 'zero' increase in taxes cannot be expected to be a yearly occurrence since the ability to hold the line on taxes will be severely jeopardized by a sustained shortfall in state funding, which will eventually cause significant financial hardship on the school district and will seriously affect the education received by the children of Pleasant Valley."
When an audience member questioned why the fund balance this year, Arnold said that the district had rolled money from that fund before.
"We thought this was a good year to do it again," he said.
Board president Murphy added that the district's cost saving measures were another large factor.
Board member Susan Kresge thanked everyone from the superintendent on down for working so hard on the budget.