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Fairfield School Districts gets
 preliminary budget

(2/1) The Fairfield Area School District needs to find $300,000 in revenues, cut that amount or find some combination of both before the next school year. The school board received the 2011 preliminary budget on Jan. 24, which projected a deficit of $300,000.

At this point in the process, the deficit is not a major concern. District Business Manager Mark Sewell said the numbers will change as state and county funding numbers firm up.

"We have not in earnest begun to ask ourselves where we can make cuts and not reduce services," Superintendent William Chain said during the board meeting.

The preliminary budget estimated revenues for the next school year at $15,959,224 and estimated expenses of $16,249,759. The expenses are based on known expenditures and some new expected expenses, such as teacher contract negotiations and health care increases of 14.4 percent. The expected expenses are estimated at 2.6 percent higher than the current approved budget, but they are slightly less than they were projected to be when the district’s 5-year projections were made in February 2010.

The board is also struggling with how to deal with the pressure to eliminate or combine positions. Employee pay and benefits make up 64.4 percent of the board’s current budget (70.7 percent if professional services are included). Because of this, it is also the most likely area to reduce when cuts are needed. Parents of Fairfield School District are concerned that the school only has a part-time athletic director in particular.

"The numbers don’t really mean anything to the school district," Sewell was reported saying in the Gettysburg Times. "You hear everything from we’re going back to level funding in 2008," he said of some state funding projections, adding "I would doubt that’s going to happen; there’d be too much public outcry."

The board is scheduled to vote on the preliminary budget for adoption at the school board’s Feb. 14 meeting.

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