SMASD continues addressing budget issues

Recently St. Marys Area School District Superintendent Ann Kearney updated the school board on budget issues. This year, the district has absorbed six professional positions and combined other positions at a savings of over $500,000 to their current budget. Additionally, positions absorbed in the past three years have helped with the budget crunch which other districts have been experiencing. "We have been proactive by not replacing retirees wherever possible and it has proven to be an effective strategy, given the decrease in enrollment and the budget constraints with the stimulus monies," Kearney said. "We are doing everything we can to save money in every department."According to Kearney, the difference between the tentative and final budget is negative $110,000 due to the state's final budget. She noted the reinstatement of Accountability Block Grant (ABG) funding is approximately 38 percent less than what the district received last year."We will use this money, as we have in the past, to subsidize the all-day kindergarten program," Kearney said. "The general fund money that will be freed up will then be put into a contingency fund for textbook purchases as per our Strategic Plan and/or the many unknowns in the district, such as the number of Special Education students and their diverse needs, the number of enrolled students in cyberschools, harsh weather, which would increase utility costs, and/or emergencies."Kearney commended each of the school's administrators for cutting their budgets.