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Plum school budget draft would cut some positions, foreign language classes |

Plum school budget draft would cut some positions, foreign language classes

Plum School District.
Plum School District.

Plum School District officials have approved a preliminary 2018-19 budget of $65.1 million, with a tax increase and program cuts.

The vote was unanimous, with all board members present at a special meeting Tuesday night.

Board President Steve Schlauch, finance committee chairman, said the budget still is a work in progress and there’s a lot of work to do before the final budget adoption in June.

The proposed budget has a property tax rate of 21.215 mills, which is a 0.972-mill hike from this year. The owner of a home with the district’s median value of $116,000 would pay $113 more a year as a result of the increase.

The tax hike would be beyond the Act 1 index — a formula that limits tax increases — because of increased pension and special education costs.

The board raised taxes last year by 0.866 mills and took out a 12-year, $5.6 million loan. It used approximately $1.4 million of the borrowed money to balance the budget. The proposed spending plan projects using nearly $1 million of the money to offset revenue shortfalls.

The preliminary budget was posted on the district’s website.

Staff reductions under the spending plan would come from closing Regency Elementary School and cutting high school foreign language classes nearly in half, in favor of more online options. District officials have discussed cutting at least 20 positions,

Closing Regency is estimated to save the district at least $1.1 million annually. The board has not decided where the school’s 250 students would attend classes.

Plans discussed included changing Pivik and Center elementaries to house kindergarten through fourth grade, with Holiday Park designated for fifth- and sixth-graders; or having elementary schools for kindergarten through fifth grades and shifting sixth grade to Oblock Junior High.

All of the elementary schools are now K-6. The proposed budget doesn’t address reconfiguring schools.

“I based it purely on leaving that out” and keeping the education model the same, district Business Manager John Zahorchak said prior to the meeting.

Board members had talked about reducing kindergarten to part-time to save money, but the latest budget keeps it at full-time.

Michael DiVittorio is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at 412-871-2367, or via Twitter @MikeJdiVittorio.

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