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I.U., technology center budgets considered

Published February 10. 2010 05:00PM

The Tamaqua Area School District will pay slightly less towards the proposed 2010-2011 budget for Schuylkill Intermediate Unit 29 and faces a minor increase in the Schuylkill Technology Center's budget.

The district's finance committee reviewed the two budget proposals Tuesday evening.

Superintendent Carol Makuta said the Schuylkill I.U. 29's administrative program budget for next year is $2,485,671. The I.U. is also projecting to receive $2,305,671 in state allocation and other resouces.

Makuta noted the I.U. budget contains a $230,214 increase (10.21 percent) over this year. There is no anticipated change in district withholding, although that could be changed due to the state budget and school code.

The budget share for each district is determined by a formula developed by the Pennsylvania Department of Education and based on several factors, including aid ratio and weighted average daily attendance.

The I.U. is anticipating that its 12 participating school districts will pay a total share of $180,000 for the budget next year. That is actually less than the $193,320 contribution the districts paid towards the 2009-2010 budget.

Tamaqua Area's share of the I.U. budget has decreased from $26,619 to $24,785, a decrease of $1,834.

"They are using their fund balance so the districts' share won't increase this year," explained Makuta.

The I.U. is proposing using $556,533 of its $1.3 million fund balance from June, 2009 towards its 2010-11 budget.

Makuta said there is the possibility of additional staff costs being included in the budget due to the uncertainty of Power Library funding; prior to this year, the I.U. received $300,000 annually in that area.

The I.U. also has vacant positions for an assistant executive director and technology support specialist.

Board President Larry A. Wittig asked why the Pottsville Area School District, a larger school district than Tamaqua Area, would have a smaller share of the I.U. budget ($21,482) next year. Tamaqua Area has many of its special education programs in house, but its share of the I.U. budget is second only to Blue Mountain's $38,646.

Makuta explained that Pottsville has a higher aid ratio for its students than Tamaqua Area, so that lowers its membership share, even though Pottsville's usage is higher.

The Schuylkill Technology Center budget is also formula-driven, but each district's share is based on 17 percent.

The technology center is budgeting a contribution of $4,700,755, which is the same as it was for this year. It is anticipating an enrollment of 799 students for next year, one more than this year's 800.

The tech center's cost per student to its districts has risen slightly, going from $5,875.94 this year to $5,883.30. Tamaqua is expecting 85 students will use the tech center next year, two more than this year.

There is an overall 2.85 percent increase for the budget, or $164,808. The tech center is expected to use $100,000 from its fund balance towards its 2010-11 budget.

Makuta said the tech center will be selling available seats to other districts that might want them, so districts are buying the seats not spoken for. "We may have to make a commitment to those seats, and that's chance we'd have to take," she noted.

The finance committee approved Tamaqua Area's share of the budget, and the board as a whole will vote on it during its monthly meeting next Tuesday.

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