The Spring Grove Area school board voted 8-1 last week to approve the final budget for next year, which will raise property taxes to the state cap and rely on the district's fund balance to cover the remaining gap.

The $63 million budget means the district will raise taxes by 2.6 percent, as allowed by the state Department of Education. That's an increase of 0.53 mills, or $79.95, for a homeowner with a property valued at $150,000.

Some of the biggest expenses are retirement costs and special education, said business manager George Ioannidis.

Unanswered questions remain about the budget, Ioannidis said. For example, the district is unsure how much of its fund balance it will need to use over the next year to balance the budget. The budget gap is $4.2 million right now, but Ioannidis said it is more likely the district will spend about $2.6 million from its fund balance to cover expenses.

Some of that actual cost will depend on factors such as revenue collected.

Cutting positions: The district is planning to save money by not replacing seven teachers who will retire, an estimated savings of about $750,000. Ioannidis said the administration is in the process of deciding how to balance that loss so it doesn't negatively affect the classrooms and programs.

"We still have to perform at our best," Ioannidis said. "The real trick is to do it with less resources."

Another moving part is the state budget. The district's budget includes an increase of $34,553 to special education funding and a Ready to Learn Block Grant valued at $480,469.

Those were the numbers proposed by Gov. Tom Corbett, but the state Legislature needs to approve a final budget before the end of June.

Funding levels could change or the state could require Spring Grove to start new programs with the grant money, which could incur additional cost, Ioannidis said.

Ioannidis said approving the school's budget a month before the state can have risks. But the school board has approved the budget in May in the past several years and adjusted accordingly, Ioannidis said.

- Reach Nikelle Snader at nsnader@yorkdispatch.com.