The Dover Area School District wants the public's opinion on how to balance a budget that carries a $4.31 million deficit for the 2014-15 academic year.

Acting superintendent Jason Conway said the district placed a 27-question survey online Sunday, 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.

The survey: Dover Area School is surveying staff members, students and their parents or guardians, other residents and business owners in the district. The survey can be accessed on the district's website at www.doversd.org.

As of Monday afternoon, 80 people had completed the survey, which concludes Sunday, Conway said.

"It's really taking off," he said. "But we need as many people as possible to get involved. We really want to hear from the public."

The survey's results will be revealed during the school board's planning meeting at 6:45 p.m. Monday.

"I started planning for this (survey) about three or four days ago," Conway said. "The goal of this (school) board is to gather as much info as possible when making decisions in terms of program reductions or (a) tax increase and also how much of the fund balance to use."

While completing the survey, respondents can download an interactive worksheet that shows how their decisions affect the budget.

School board members also will complete the survey. Their survey and budget worksheet results also will be revealed during the Monday meeting, Conway said.

The budget: During the board's April 7 meeting, Conway presented a no-tax-increase budget proposal that would use about $4.31 million from district fund reserves to eliminate the deficit.

The reserves consists of unassigned funds of more than $3.8 million and committed funds of close to $6.8 million. The latter include nearly $2.85 million for payments to the state public school employees' retirement system.

Conway also proposed that the district add nine elementary teachers but reduce expenditures and hours for district aides and eliminate some non-instructional personnel.

He proposed cutting costs by getting rid of underused budget accounts, making better use of teachers with dual certifications and eliminating the director of curriculum/instruction position, which has duties similar to those of an assistant superintendent.

Conway said his proposal does not call for a reduction in music or art programs.

Conway said the board told him it was uncomfortable with using the fund balance to eliminate the deficit. The board also suggested hiring five elementary school teachers rather than nine, Conway said.

He said the district needs more direction on how to resolve the budget, and the survey represents the options the board is beginning to consider.

The vote on the final budget is scheduled for Monday, May 19, Conway said.

—Reach Eyana Adah McMillan at emcmillan@yorkdispatch.com.