Toth discusses financial overview of school district

Amy Cherry
Staff Writer

St. Marys Area School District Superintendent Brian Toth provided a financial overview of the district Tuesday night during a workshop meeting by reviewing state and federal funding history.
The district is anticipating a property tax increase to the tune of 1 mill. This would cost the average household about $40/year or about $3.34/month.
“Schools’ main source of income is through taxes,” Toth said.
The main reason for the need for more revenue is due to lack of state funds as St. Marys Area receives $3,000 per student per year less than its peers, totaling $6 million each year.
St. Marys Area is 14.7 percent below the state adequacy target for money needed to meet state education standards and would need 44.7 percent in additional state funding to reach the state’s fair share.
There is also a lack of state funding for mandated programs involving training and curricular and for mandated expense increases such as for charter schools, special education and state backed benefits.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau in 2015, Pennsylvania ranks 47th in the nation for education revenue. Districts receive 37 percent of revenue from state sources. Locally, the district receives 56.5 percent of revenue from local sources, ranking third in the state in this category.
“The Pa. General Assembly expects local people to pay for it,” Toth said.
Toth explained how the cost of many things are increasing. He cited the 1.5 mill tax increase approved by the Elk County Board of Commissioners, an increase in Zito Media rates as of April 1, all while lawmakers’ salaries continue to increase as they receive health care for life and are not impacted by new retirement mandates.