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TASD budget woes

Published May 14. 2011 09:02AM

Tamaqua Area School District faces a budget deficit of about $2.4 million for the 2011-2012 fiscal year.

As a result, numerous spending cuts are being proposed, which are expected to be discussed with the school board meets at 7 p.m. next Wednesday.

One spending cut includes altering the schedule, increasing instructional hours, and utilizing Act 80.

The concept is to create a winter schedule utilizing up to 15 Act 80 days. In essence, this amounts to virtually a four-day school week during the winter.

A statement on the district's website outlines various measures proposed to cut costs. They include:

• A reduction of 10 professional staff, including a high school guidance counselor, high school social studies teacher, high school business teacher, elementary/PSSA prep teacher, and six elementary teachers.

The statement says that no suspensions of teachers is being proposed; that professional employees will be transferred within the district to fill vacancies made by retirements.

• Salary freezes are proposed. This includes professional employees, administrative personnel, advisors, coaches, and non-contract positions.

• A reduction of building site budgets to the 2008-2009 level could save $60,000.

• Reducing three non-professional staff positions. This includes one maintenance, one custodian, and one secretary.

• Eliminate activities or services which have been offered in the past.

The total savings from the above mentioned measures would save a total of $1,667,788, according to the budget analysis.

Members of the Tamaqua Education Association were advised of the proposed budget cuts Friday. Because some affect the current contract of the TEA, members are scheduled to vote Monday on the matter.

Just a month ago, the school district and TEA had come to an agreement of a new contract.

A statement on that contract agreement said:

"In the 2010-2011 school year, there will be a wage freeze. All other language for this year will remain the same as the contract that expired at the end of the 2010 school year.

"Over the next four years, the average increase will be 2.4 percent over the life of the contract.

"Total concessions that were made by the association will save between $125,000 and $200,000 for the school district."

Negotiations for the contract took place for more than a year.

School officials were not available to comment on the latest cost savings proposal.

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