Hanover school district braces for financial struggles during budget impasse

Written by Lillian Reed, York Daily Record | Sep 29, 2015 3:20 PM
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(Hanover) -- More than 90 days have passed since Pennsylvania has had a state budget, and Hanover Public School District officials say they are beginning to worry.

District officials gave the school board an update Monday on the state budget impasse and what it means for schools in the coming months.

Budget impasse explained

Pennsylvania legislators missed the June 30 deadline to establish a state budget, following Gov. Tom Wolf's veto of a Republican budget plan.

Lawmakers recently passed a stopgap budget bill, which creates a temporary budget identical to the previous fiscal year while they continue to negotiate. Wolf vetoed the bill Tuesday.

On a local level, the impasse has caused unease over the 2015-16 school year budget for Business Manager Troy Wentz and Supt. John Scola, both men said at Monday's school board meeting.

District funding running low

Since July, Hanover school district has been expecting the state to pay $275,000 from the Basic Education Subsidy, and another $1 million in reimbursements for retirement funds and construction costs, Wentz said. Several other smaller payments have also been missed since the start of the impasse, he said.

In total, the district is missing about $1.4 million in expected funding from the state, Wentz said.

The Pennsylvania Association of School Business Officials has advised the district that even if a budget is passed tomorrow, it may take an additional 30 to 45 days before any of the money is dispersed, he said.

Making ends meet

So far, the school district has been relying on local property taxes to get by, Wentz said. Property tax notifications were sent in July and have been producing enough revenue to keep the district afloat during the impasse.

Payments are still being made to the charter and cyber schools supported by the district, Scola said.

Still, the final date for residents to pay their property taxes is Nov. 2, after which time district officials will begin bracing for financial struggles.

"As we project out, December or January is when it'll be crucial to receive state funding," Wentz said. "Local tax dollars only take you so far."

The budget impasse is hindering the school district from being able to draft a budget for next year as well.

"What's disappointing in we're 25 percent through the year, and we're not sure what the state funding for 2016-17 will look like," Wentz said. "Every day that goes by just makes it harder."

Drafting season usually begins around this time each year, and the board is legally required to pass a preliminary budget in early January, Scola said.

"There's a possibility we may have a preliminary budget next year without any money this year," Scola said. "It's ridiculous at the least."

This article comes to us through a partnership between York Daily Record and WITF. 

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