Required to adopt a balanced budget by June 30, York City School District officials are cobbling together a proposal with two major pieces of the financial puzzle missing.
First, it's still unclear whether New Hope Academy Charter School will be forced to close — a scenario that could send an influx of students and money to the district.
And, the teacher's union has not agreed to new collective-bargaining agreement with the district, which adopted a financial recovery plan that depends significantly on workforce savings achieved through wage and benefits reductions during the next five years.
Nonetheless, district administrators are proposing to move forward with plans to add and expand programs.
If nothing changes to help the district drastically cut costs or increase revenues, that means the district is facing a $4.9 million deficit in next year's budget.
However, the district's business manager said in a presentation to the school board Monday that he wants to avoid a property-tax increase.
"I just don't believe that we want to, for the long-term viability of the city and the district, I don't think we want to raise those taxes unless we absolutely have to," Richard Snodgrass said.
Tax cap: Earlier this year, the board decided it will not seek permission from the state Department of Education to raise taxes above its 3.4 percent tax cap.
That means the district's millage rate — currently set at 33.74 mills — could not increase to more than 34.88 mills.
The district's "biggest goal" for 2014-15, Superintendent Eric Holmes said, is to reduce classroom sizes.
"In order to do that, we need staff. And in order to do that, we need more space," he said.
So, Holmes is proposing that York City reopen Hannah Penn Middle School as a K-8 building — which would make it the district's seventh school serving those grades.
The district would hire 27 teachers and 18 administrative or support personnel to staff the building.
That's a proposition estimated to cost about $4.1 million, Snodgrass said.
Administrators are also proposing to add three pre-kindergarten classrooms, add first and second grades to the Cornerstone program, and restore funding to some music and athletic programs.
"We owe it to kids to do the things that they need," Snodgrass said. "Money doesn't make quality of education, but it's very hard to do it without any money."
The success of the recovery plan — and the future of the district — is like a juggling act, Holmes said.
"And we can't drop any of the balls," he said.
— Reach Erin James at firstname.lastname@example.org.