MCDONALD – For the third year running, the South Fayette School Board has adopted a budget that does not include a tax increase.
At its meeting Tuesday, the board adopted a plan for the 2019-20 school year that will have the district taking in about $58.5 million and spending $62.3 million. The remaining $3.8 million will come from the district’s fund balance.
The district’s real estate tax will remain at 26.7 mills. This means that the owner of a home in South Fayette School District will pay $2,670 for every $100,000 of a property’s assessed value.
Tax increases have been par for the course in South Fayette School District in recent years, due in large part to the district’s robust growth. Its enrollment has increased by more than 40 percent since the start of the decade. There were 2,483 students in the district’s classrooms in the 2010-11 school year, and it’s projected that 3,524 will be in the 2019-20 school year that gets underway in August.
“Most of the districts around us are at break even or decreasing,” said Brian Tony, the district’s finance director.
Tony also told the board there are still some unknowns in the budgeting process, such as how much money the district will be receiving from the state. School boards are mandated to approve budgets by June 30, the same day as the commonwealth’s budget deadline.
Before the board voted some residents expressed concern about the tax increases district homeowners have experienced. Arlene Dantry told the board she “felt a little abused as a senior citizen” because of tax increases in the district.
Another resident, Robert Gancas said the district needed to consider cutting taxes rather than raising them, and the district’s estimate that it costs $17,000 to educate each student every year “tells me the costs are going far out of control.”
“We live in an age of disruptive technology,” Gancas said. “That type of thinking needs to be applied to the school district.”