Purchase Line High School sign

The budget was the main topic of discussion at the Purchase Line School board meeting Monday night. Brenda Pawlowski, from the auditing firm of Kotzan CPA and Associates, was in attendance to give the audit report presentation.

The audit showed that there were unmodified reports on financial statements, internal controls and compliance over those statements and on the controls and compliance over the major federal programs. The report showed that total federal expenditures for the 2019 fiscal year was $1,121,631 while the previous year was just shy of that.

There was a net change in the fund balance for all governmental money, with an increase of $44,000. The general fund had a decrease of nearly $24,000. The total fund balance of all the governmental funds was $9.4 million with $7.5 million of that in the general fund, $1.2 million in the capital reserve fund and $586,000 in the debt service fund.

Pawlowski also mentioned that in each district that they audit there was an increase in earned income tax collections as well as slight increases in property taxes. Overall though, Pawlowski said the audit showed no significant findings.

“We encountered no difficulties during the audit,” she said.

There were some immaterial adjustments, but there were no other issues or disagreements within the audit. She also thanked everyone involved for treating the audit team well while they were there and helping the audit to go smoothly.

For discussion of the state and departmental budgets, the meeting was turned over to Abbey Romagna, the business manager for the district. The state budget, released last week, allowed for the discussion of some preliminary numbers.

Basic education had a $100 million increase, with the district receiving $49,436 more than last year, which is about a 0.5 percent increase. The ready to learn grant was level funded again this year at $218,571, which the district uses for its kindergarten teachers. In special education funding, there will be a 1.6 percent increase, which equates to about $14,822, bringing the total funding for next year to $907,920.

There will also be several contracts up for renewal dealing with professional services. The ones recommended for bidding are the positions of athletic trainer, school physician and after-school activity security. The ones recommended for renewal are the school police officer and technology vendors. These were all put forward for recommendations and discussed briefly, but there will be more research and discussion before they are presented to the board.

Department budgets include the high school, which didn’t see much change besides some requests for equipment for the music department and the industrial art department. The school nurse requested a new vision screener at approximately $3,300. Overall the high school budget is down $30,000.

The elementary budget also didn’t see any drastic changes except for a few in curriculum and has a level funded budget with just a slight increase of $823. Nothing significant was brought forth for the rest of the budget.

There was a question brought up about the tuition for cyberschool, which takes a large chunk of the budget. Tuition rate currently is based on budget numbers and is approximately $35,000 per student. Superintendent Shawn Ford said there needs to continue to be advocacy for charter school reform since this tends to be a large stressor for the budget.

Romagna said the curriculum budget is down $56,000, with reduced spending in professional and staff development. Software costs are mostly staying the same.

The biggest item in the special education budget is also the cyberschool tuition. Seven students are currently enrolled in special education cyberschool, which is a large number for the district, Romagna said. Costs are $170,000 for the high school and $70,000 for the elementary. This cost is the major factor in the budget’s increase, which is up $210,000.

The technology budget is seeing some changes. The one-to-one Chromebooks are being expanded into the fourth grade after they were deemed beneficial. So next year, Chromebook usage will be seen in fourth to 12th grade. In addition, the print center is requesting a poster maker at about $7,000 because the one currently in use needs to be replaced. Overall, the technology budget is going down $29,000.

Two items not on the technology budget include e-rate funding, which, if the district gets it, will be most likely be spent on setting up wireless access points throughout the building, which would be about $1,500. The other is about $35,000 to replace the fiber line, which is working for the time being, but is aged and could use replacing.

The maintenance budget is down about $22,000 due to the purchase of a lawn tractor in the current year. One item being looked at is the replacement of the electrical service in the boiler room and eight sub-panels. A contractor has looked at these issues and is expected to give a price estimate within two weeks. Repairs in the boiler room are a top priority, officials said. The other panels are still currently working but were originally installed in 1954. Carl Jones, maintenance and custodial supervisor, said that “a few of them still have the golden glass fuses on them.”

Athletics are looking to get new uniforms for football, cross country and volleyball. There is currently pricing that the district would like to take advantage of in hopes of getting the uniforms in time for the beginning of the school year. Plans are in place to request permission to purchase these uniforms at next month’s meeting. Overall, athletics increased $9,300; most of that is due to the uniforms.

The district budget saw no significant changes. Solicitor costs went down, decreasing approximately $8,000 overall.

Romagna ended her discussion by suggesting that the next budget meeting take place in April. She said that she would have a better idea of revenues as well as more data at that time.

Also on hand to speak was National Honor Society Student Colin Matz, who gave a brief list of high school updates. On Feb. 1, Purchase Line students competed at the regional competition of the Technology Student Association at Northern Cambria, with 12 advancing to states. He also gave updates on a vaping awareness assembly and basketball invitational tournaments, as well as an upcoming date for driver’s education courses, Feb. 11, and the first day of spring sports practices, March 2.