Erie School Board approves tax, tuition hike

Local News

Erie School Board approved a balanced budget of $192 million.

The board passed the budget with a 4-3 vote Wednesday at East Middle School.

The financial plan eliminates a projected $9.5 million dollar deficit with savings largely coming from district reconfiguration and possible state subsidies.

But a local source of money includes a tax increase of a half-percent, or an additional $8.31 on a $100,000 house.

“I’m on a fixed income myself. I don’t want to do it, but we don’t have a choice in the matter. We have to try to get that money,” said Frank Petrungar, the board’s president.

The plan calls for increased tuition at Collegiate Academy. During the 2018-19 school year, families of out-of-district students will pay $7,000, up $2,000 from the past year. The tuition will increase to $8,600 for the 2018-2019 school year, the actual cost to teach a pupil, according to Petrungar.

In spite of the measures, the district could still find itself with a deficit.

“At this point, there’s a lot of uncertainty about what type of subsidy we’ll receive next year,” said Brian Polito, the district’s chief financial officer and incoming superintendent. “So, we’re continuing to watch what’s going on in Harrisburg, and once their budget is passed, we will make adjustments to our budget, accordingly.”

Petrungar estimates that the district might need $10-15 million dollars in state assistance.

“We’re guessing at this point, and we’re hoping. That’s why we’re doing everything we possibly can to have the state give us some money. It’s just a waiting game, right now, until [the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania] pass their’s,” he said.

The final budget could also be a factor in the potential for teacher layoffs. Up to 10 full-time positions might need to be eliminated, according to Petrungar. The exact numbers, he said, would likely be revealed in August.

The 2017-18 fiscal year begins July 1. On that date, Polito will be installed as superintendent.

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