More than 100 people crammed into the Dover Area School District's education center earlier this week to complain about potential cuts in the proposed 2013-14 budget.
They complained most loudly about any cuts to junior high sports and extracurriculars as well as rumored cuts to the music program at all levels.
The district is facing a $3.9 million shortfall, and that's even if the school board raises taxes by the maximum allowed, 2.3 percent.
Among the cuts the district has discussed are not replacing seven retiring teachers for a savings of about $745,000 and eliminating junior varsity extracurriculars to save about $65,000.
One of the retiring teachers who won't be replaced is a drama teacher. The staff cuts could result in fewer elementary music teachers.
Among those to address the board was parent Brett Miller, who expressed concerns over the board's proposed cuts to the music and sports programs.
When his three minutes to speak were up, board member Christy Rehm asked him if he had other ideas for solving the budget problem. Miller said he hadn't looked at the budget.
Steve Cook, a parent and president of the band boosters association, argued the board is budgeting revenues lower than expected and collecting them higher than expected, leading to a budget surplus. The district has repeatedly said its reserve fund balance is for a rainy day.
"It's raining and it's raining hard," Cook told the board.
Board president Bryan Rehm and Superintendent Robert Krantz said the true rainy day is coming in the 2017-18 and 2018-19 school years when the district's contribution to Public School Employees Retirement System (PSERS) is expected to spike.
Already, the PSERS contribution from the district is up nearly 17 percent for 2013-14 over 2012-13 - a more than $500,000 increase - and it will continue to rise, school officials said.
The district plans to take $1.7 million from its $3.2 million fund balance to help with 2013-14 budget costs.
Krantz reiterated to the crowd the music program was going to be "trimmed, not cut.
Part of Dover's problem is an unusually large residential property tax base (82 percent) and a low average assessed property value (about $95,000), Krantz said previously. Even maxing out the tax increase will only bring the district an additional $606,000 in revenue.
The board alloted 30 minutes for public comment at the beginning of its meeting, then heard from more residents concerned about possible budget cuts at the end of its meeting.
The district's preliminary budget is scheduled to be adopted at the board's next meeting, 7 p.m., Monday, April 15, with final adoption scheduled for May 20.
- Reach Lauren McLane at firstname.lastname@example.org.