The Dover Area School Board is using a recent district survey to guide its discussion on how to balance a budget that carries a $3.54 million deficit.
Acting Superintendent Jason Conway shared the results of the district's 27-question online survey, asking for public input on what decisions the board should make in various areas of the budget, including the use of property taxes and the district's fund balance, hiring elementary school teachers to reduce classroom sizes and reducing programs to save money.
He announced that 497 people participated in the survey. The respondents were Dover Area School staff members, students and their parents or guardians, other residents and business owners in the district.
The survey results are posted on the district's website at www.doversd.org.
What they said: Concerning taxes, 223 people or 45 percent said there should be no tax increase, while 18 people or 4 percent answered that the board should raise taxes to the 2.8 percent tax cap, which would generate $762,920 for the district. Other tax responses were: 78 respondents, or 16 percent, chose an increase of 1.4 percent for $381,460; 73 people, or 15 percent, chose a 0.7 increase for $190,730; and 40 people, or 8 percent, picked a 2.1 increase to generate $572,190.
Of the 497 respondents, 211 agreed that the school board could use $3 million from the district's $10.6 million fund balance reserves to reduce the deficit, while 66 do not want any of the money used, Conway said.
Survey results also showed that more than 50 percent of the respondents were reluctant to furlough — at $505,000 in total cost savings — two elementary art teachers and three physical education teachers, with plans to provide instruction on those topics once every six school days and to contract lifeguard services for the intermediate school.
However, more than 80 percent said they would agree to eliminate the director of curriculum and director of pupil services for a combined $321,000 in savings. And 76 percent said "yes" to a pay freeze for district administrators for the 2014-2015 school year, a savings of $37,000.
Board: After hearing Conway's report, the board used the survey questions to discuss budget options and list priorities, first reaching a consensus of possibly using $2 million from the district's fund balance toward reducing the deficit and possibly raising taxes 1.4 percent to generate $381,460.
Conway has presented a no-tax-increase budget proposal that would use about $3.5 million from the fund reserves to balance the budget.
Survey takers: The largest group of respondents were 224 parents who accounted for 45 percent of the survey answers. Community members made up 29 percent, with 142 of them answering questions.
Sixty-one staff members who were not district residents accounted for 12 percent of the responses, while 8 percent of the responses came from staff living within the district.
Four percent of survey respondents were 18 business owners who also are district residents, while only two non-resident business owners answered questions.
Eight school students took the survey, making up 2 percent of the respondents.
Vote on the final budget is scheduled for Monday, May 19, Conway said.
—Reach Eyana Adah McMillan at email@example.com.