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State College District Advertises Superintendent Job; Board Continues Budget Talks

on January 11, 2011 2:12 AM

The State College Area School District has formally begun to advertise its superintendent opening, school-board President Ann McGlaughlin announced Monday night.

Speaking at the board's regular meeting, McGlaughlin said advertisements for the job began to appear this month. The school district, she said, hopes to have all applications in hand by late March.

She said the district will post updates on the superintendent search on its website -- www.scasd.org -- and plans to include opportunities for public input and involvement. Names of applicants won't become public until relatively late in the process, she said. The board has indicated that it wants to have a new superintendent seated in time for the 2011-12 school year.

The search process began in December after the resignation of Richard J. Mextorf, the last superintendent. He has been charged in a DUI incident in Clinton County; that case is pending in county court.

In other business at the Monday meeting, board members informally agreed not to cap a potential tax increase this year at 1.4 percent -- the district's 2011-12 limit prescribed under Pennsylvania Act 1.

The Act 1 limits, calculated and set each year by the state Department of Education, are meant to control the pace of school districts' tax increases. School boards may circumvent their respective limits, however, by applying to the state for exceptions under specific conditions.

SCASD Business Administrator Jeffrey Ammerman estimated that a 1.4 percent tax increase would bring the district's local-tax revenues to $114 million for the 2011-12 school year. That's $2 million to $4 million short of tentatively anticipated expenses.

Ammerman has said the district could probably win exceptions from the state to pursue a tax increase of as much as four percent for 2011-12. A tax increase at that level would likely bump revenue to about $115.9 million, Ammerman estimated.

Either way, he said, the district may well see a budget shortfall of at least $2 million. Using some quick math, board Vice President Jim Pawelczyk suggested that could mean a loss of roughly 15 positions from the district workforce.

Much -- if not all -- of that reduction could be achieved through attrition, similar to how the the district shed 18 jobs through attrition for the 2010-11 year, school officials have said.

But it's still much too soon to know exactly how the budget situation may evolve over the next several months. The board is expected to adopt a preliminary budget by February, refine the spending plan by May and finalize it by June.

In the coming weeks, each district department will be asked to prepare analyses of how it could shave several percent from its budget. District leaders will consider the possible cuts, striving to minimize impacts on the classroom experience, interim Superintendent Michael Hardy said.

Also Monday, the district administration noted that a proposed school-year calendar for 2011-12 will be presented at the next board meeting, on Jan. 24.

In addition, district facilities director Ed Poprik presented an update on construction at the Ferguson Township and the new Mount Nittany elementary schools. Both projects are within their respective budgets and on track to be complete in time for the 2011-12 school year, he said.

Earlier coverage

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