West York school board passes final budget despite concerns

West York Area High School in West Manchester Township, Tuesday, Aug. 21, 2018. Dawn J. Sagert

The West York Area School Board approved the district's 2019-20 final budget Tuesday, with some concerns from board members.

"I have indicated in the past that I will not hold up the budget," said Suzanne Smith, who said she would vote to approve the budget despite still having reservations about the need to add a safety and security coordinator for $107,315, including benefits.

The board had disagreed over the necessity of the position — or its need to be a full-time salaried role — at its preliminary budget presentation in March.

Treasurer George Margetas echoed his previous thoughts on Tuesday, April 16, saying that passing the budget does not guarantee that the position would be approved, but passing it would be prudent given that there's no tax increase.

More:No tax increase for West York district in proposed budget

The district's financial outlook is much improved compared with a few years ago, he said, and the board has been able to increase security and implement administrative changes according to the superintendent's plan with no extra burden to the taxpayer.

"I hope the community at large is happy with us," at least from a financial standpoint, Margetas said.

West York Area School District's board treasurer, George Margetas

Board president Todd Gettys and Rodney Drawbaugh, who both attended the meeting via phone, agreed with his statements.

The 2019-20 budget — which saw no changes from its draft version approved in March — includes about $62.9 million in expenditures with a projected deficit between about $1.6 million and $2 million by year's end and no tax increase for the second year.

It would be a reduction from 2018-19's projected deficit of about $2.4 million following a surplus the last two years.

But vice president Jeanne Herman had her own issues with next year's budget and said she would be voting "no."

"While I believe that there are a number of wonderful programs and some great personnel recommendations in the budget, I also think that we should be prioritizing some things — mental health concerns — over others," she said.

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West York Area School Board members (L to R) Donald Carl, Suzanne Smith, Rodney Drawbaugh and Lynn Kohler, at the June 12 work session meeting.

Herman said she'd like to see another nurse and more counselors and social workers, and that in planning for the next union contract, the board could work smarter and eliminate some positions while still adding others.

She also voted against a separate board action item for the creation of a Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps program for the same reasons.

"I would like to see dollars expended elsewhere," she said.

Donald Carl disagreed with a Lunch and Learn program included in the budget as well, which he said would be a major policy and scheduling shift.

Margetas and Superintendent Todd Davies reiterated that there would be opportunities for the board to discuss these issues later, but the budget would just approve dollars. 

The budget passed 8-1, with Herman voting no.