School Board Set to Draft Letter to State Legislators Over Budget Impasse

School board members Cody Brown, Donna Zariczny, and Arthur Stewart. File photo by Brian Hagberg.

RUSSELL, Pa. – Pennsylvania state legislators adjourned for the summer without passing a budget potentially costing school districts millions, and at least one Warren County School District board member is “flabbergasted” that legislators are not doing more to resolve the issue.

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.

That state legislators would adjourn for the summer without passing a budget led to strong rebukes and a planned resolution from the board.

“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. And if there’s something that we can do in form of a resolution or forwarding the letter we received from the State Ed Department to our legislators, I think that we should be doing that as a board.”

“I would add that there may be reason for there to be disagreement, but there’s no reason for them (state legislators) to go into adjournment,” board member Arthur Stewart said. “And if you were so inclined, I’d love to see that included as part of the letter because as long as you sit and talked about it there’s still a chance, but when you say you’re going to adjourn until September, there’s obviously no chance and that seems to me to be the core of irresponsibility.”

Board member Paul Mangione said he would check with the Intermediate Unit to see if it was drafting a response, but the board agreed it should create its own letter or resolution to have ready if the IU does not have a response.

“Can we make a recommendation that the administration prepare for our review, meaning the board’s review, a letter that keys on the points that have been talked about tonight,” Stewart said. “Essentially that we think it is your responsibility to return and that we, as a school district, need those dollars and that we’re calling upon the legislators and the governor, to all sit down and take the responsible action.”

That proposal will be put before the full board at its Aug. 14 meeting.