RUSSELL, Pa. – The Pennsylvania budget impasse could prove costly for the Warren County School District if it drags on much longer.
WCSD Director of Business Services Jim Grosch told the board during Monday’s Finance Committee meeting that the district had received a letter from the state indicating that approximately $50 million in state funds would not be distributed until a budget is passed.
Grosch broke down how he arrived at the $50 million figure.
“It’s $28.8 million of basic ed fund and $5.2 (million) in Special Ed, $9.6 (million) in other state subsidies, including Social Security, transportation, in Title dollars, $5.7 million, $400,000 for the career center, and then the Perkins Grant which is about $85,000,” Grosch said. “So the sum of these is $50 million that we won’t receive yet.”
The board unanimously approved an action authorizing the Superintendent to delay future bill payments if necessary due to the impasse.
“That the Board of School Directors approves the Financial Reports and authorizes the release of funds in payment of the listing of bills, with the understanding that the Superintendent is authorized to delay payment of any bill to a third-party entity if deemed necessary by the Superintendent due to the state budget impasse; further, that a copy as presented be submitted for audit,” the motion read.
The action gives Grosch and the district some “flexibility” if the impasse lingers into the fall.
“I’m flabbergasted that we have state legislators that feel that they can not do their job and not allow money to flow to us and still get paid while they’re on break,” board member Donna Zariczny said. “I think that’s ridiculous.”
Though the district will still receive property tax and ESSER dollars, Grosch said it’s going to be “pretty tight” for district funds especially if it gets to mid-September or later before the state dollars start flowing.
In that case, the district could look at taking a TRAN (Tax Revenue Anticipation Note), that would allow the district to borrow against the anticipated money to be received, in order to keep necessary funds flowing until the state ends its impasse.
“We would have start (the TRAN process) soon,” Grosch said. “I would say this, that as I looked at the cash flow, I believe that until the probably the second week in possibly September, we might be okay. However, the steps that we need to take before we get to that point, need to happen soon.”
Grosch said the district would likely need to decide whether it wants to start taking those steps by its Aug. 14 meeting.
Because the state budget was not passed by the June 30 deadline, it allows school districts the opportunity to reopen their budgets and make any necessary changes. Grosch said he didn’t see any advantage the district would gain by reopening the budget.
“I don’t believe there’d be anything that we would gain,” Grosch said. “I believe the budget was well thought out, well planned. I think now it’s just a matter of receiving the monies that we’re expecting to receive from the state aid plan.”
- The board, with Mary Passinger absent, did unanimously approve the hiring of one Technology Education teacher. Two long-term substitutes, an English Instructor at the Career Center (funded through ESSER dollars) and an Art Instructor at Sheffield were also approved. A school counselor (Sheffield) and a Special Education Instructor (Beaty) were approved as well.
- One school nurse and one elementary instructor are retiring, while one English Instructor and one Biology Instructor tendered their resignations.
- For support staff, one cafeteria worker (Eisenhower) and one building paraprofessional (Beaty) were approved.
- Long-time board secretary and Administrative Assistant to the Superintendent, Ruth Huck, is set to retire on Jan. 2, 2024.