North Allegheny School District Looks to Cut Costs

The district is facing a $5.7 million deficit in the 2013-2014 budget.

Whether or not the North Allegheny School Board votes to the administration must still find a way to make up millions of dollars in projected red ink.

The district estimates it will have to close a $5.7 million gap.

Superintendent Dr. Raymond Gualtieri told board members Jan. 23 that administrators are looking at several options, including a higher pupil-teacher ratio in elementary music, and lowering the cost of delivering student assistance program. He said two budgets will be drawn up, one with Peebles staying open, the other with the school closing.

Gualtieri said the administration looked at the idea of eliminating kindergarten in the district, but thinks that would only happen as a last resort.

"We have the preliminary numbers that if the board would choose to eliminate kindergarten, that would save about $1.25 million dollars," he said. "Although I believe that all of us believe that that is a very important program and would high on the list of priorities for us."

Responding to a question from board member Beth Ludwig, the superintendent said he's looked at neighboring districts to see what they have done to cut costs.

"It all depends on the culture of the school district. Some of the school districts have made elementary art and music once every two weeks instead of every week," he said. "A neighboring school district cut the business department at the high school, another eliminated the physical education requirement for students if they were playing interscholastic sports, so each school district has handled it differently."

Gualtieri said more savings will come from early retirements. 

"This board has been very strategic of the last several years in offering early retirement to teachers at the top end of the salary guide. That's a benefit which will be reaped year after year," he said. We're in the second year of that program, and 28 teachers will be leaving at the top of the salary guide. Each year we evaluate which positions we can fill, which positions we can do without. Then as we fill those positions, we have people coming in at the bottom of the salary guide that saves a significant amount of money. So part of that $5.7 million we have already reduced."

The board expects to take a preliminary vote on its budget on Feb. 20.

What do you think? How should the North Allegheny school district balance its budget? Share your thoughts in the comments box below.

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