Parents and teachers may see an increase in the number of students in each classroom at Lancaster County schools next year.
The school district is facing a $1.3 million shortfall in its $78 million budget and is attempting to close the gap by not filling vacant positions. However, with vacant teaching positions left open, classroom sizes will increase.
No jobs will be cut, according to Personnel Director Mitch Lucas, but some positions may be reduced from full time to part time to reduce payroll. Some teachers may also be moved to other schools as needed, he added.
"I don't think we'll have any kind of reduction of force where people will lose jobs," Lucas said.
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Although class sizes will increase, they will not grow beyond the district's current student-to-teacher ratio, which varies by grade and school, Lucas said.
The budget shortfall can be largely blamed on Act 388, said finance director Tony Walker. Act 388, the property tax reform bill passed in November of 2006, gives residents a credit for the amount of school operating costs on their property tax bill.
That credit is supposed to be made up by a one-cent state sales tax increase, but Walker estimates the district lost $1.75 million in revenue because of the legislation. State sales tax revenue fell far below what was expected.
To fill the budget gap, Walker is also recommending a five-mill increase, which will generate approximately $600,000.
The millage increase would not mean homeowners pay more in taxes for their primary residences. But it would raise taxes on second homes, rental homes and commercial property.
Vehicle property taxes would also be affected by the five-mill increase. On a vehicle valued at $20,000, the increase would be $6.
"If it weren't for Act 388, we'd be sitting OK," Walker said. "Our biggest hit is coming from Act 388."
The debt service budget, which pays for capital projects and building construction, is not affected by the property tax reform bill. The debt service budget has no proposed millage increase for 2008-2009.
Other budget cuts will come from a 10-percent reduction in school allocation budgets. School allocation budgets are the funding given to each school that allows them to create their own local budget. It typically includes items such as travel expenses and instructional materials.
The district office's budget allocations were also cut by 10 percent.