Peters Township School District administration building

Peters Township School District’s administration building

Peters Township School Board voted unanimously to adopt the district’s 2020-21 budget, which calls for a .35-mill real estate tax increase to generate revenue toward equaling a projected $71.2 million in expenditures.

“My prayer and my hope is that we’ll be able to overperform and we won’t have to worry about spending as much money as we’re approving,” said the Rev. Jamison Hardy, chairman of the board’s finance committee, prior to Monday’s vote.

The 2.6% tax increase brings the rate to 14.16 mills and represents the maximum allowed, without the district’s applying for an exception, under the inflationary index set in accordance with state Act 1 of 2006.

For Peters Township property owners, the annual impact is an additional $35 for every $100,000 of assessed value.

The budget anticipates the district generating $70.3 million in revenues, resulting in a “funding gap” of $911,675 compared with expenditures. To bridge the gap, the district plans to draw from the unassigned portion of its general fund balance, or surplus, in which more than $10 million is projected to remain at the conclusion of the 2020-21 school year.

Figures in the proposed final budget, which the school board approved in May, showed expenditures topping revenues by $691,180. In the interim, the board voted in favor of a $1.55 million technology investment for the district, in part because of having to close schools in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We will be providing students K to 12 with one-to-one devices across the board for that consistent experience, to make sure that all of our students have the ability to have appropriate access to our online learning environment,” Adam Swinchock, director of educational technology explained at the time.

In arriving at numbers for the final budget, those who worked on drafting the spending plan adjusted estimates for revenues, adding $228,593 to the total in the proposed version. Contributing to the estimates are the potential negative impact of COVID-19 on local sources, which account for 75% of revenues, and adjustments to basic education funding from the state.

Another revenue source is the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act, with funding for the district listed at $484,754.

Regarding expenditures, $41.9 million, or 58.8%, is categorized as instruction.

For their work on the budget in a difficult year, Hardy thanked district administrators Brad Rau, business manager, and Superintendent Jeannine French.

Multimedia Reporter

Staff writer Harry Funk, a professional journalist for three-plus decades, has been on the staff of The Almanac since 2015. He has a bachelor’s degree in journalism and master of business administration, both from Indiana University of Pennsylvania.

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