SMASD anticipating 2020-21 budget shortfall

- School district expected to hold the line on taxes despite pandemic’s economic toll
Amy Cherry
Staff Writer

Many school district across the state are struggling with budget uncertainty as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic shutdown and such is the case with the St. Marys Area School District.
During a recent school board workshop SMASD Business Manager Ginger Williams said she had started re-working the district’s budget for next year. Williams stated revenue projection will be difficult as they are not sure how the pandemic is going to affect this aspect of the budget. SMASD is projecting a loss of $1.1 million in local revenues in the form of real estate tax and earned income tax.
The St. Marys Area School District’s 2020-2021 budget is $30 million with no tax increase. The projected total revenue without reserve funds is $27,922,872 with total expenditures at $30 million resulting in a projected deficit of $2,078,532.
In order to compensate for the revenue shortfall, school districts are finding themselves tapping into their reserve fund. SMASD is using reserve funds of $2.1 million to help compensate for gaps in the budget.
“We recognize the needs of our community as people are still unemployed and every business has lost business and has not come back fully. We cannot, in good conscience, put a tax increase in place that we planned to do,” said Superintendent Brian Toth.
Toth said while SMASD will not receive an increase in state funding this year, the state has approved their funding as the same amount as last year as Act 13 protects state revenues for 2019-20. Additionally special education and basic education funding will be held stable or level funded while SMASD should also receive its full transportation subsidy from the state.