DV Debates Pension Shortfall,
But Passes 2016 Budget, 5-4
WESTFALL — The fur was flying at the June 18th Delaware Valley School Board Meeting as it was their final day to approve a budget for the upcoming school year, and it was clear that school board members were far from seeing eye to eye. Before the subject was even placed on the table, Jack Fisher, VP of the Board, called for an executive session.
At the heart of the controversy lies the fate of the teachers’ pensions via the teacher’s union, The Pennsylvania State Education Association (PSEA). Due to the state underfunding the program nearly a decade back, the teacher’s pensions have been running on a deficit. While some feel this deficit of $100 million is only a “paper” deficit and will not be an issue in the future, Fisher sees this as being a “legacy deficit” that will possibly have a negative impact on the district’s budgeting in the future. There was so much that was included in the budget – including some staffing changes – that there seemed little hope of reaching a happy consensus.
Five “yes” votes were needed to pass this budget, and in an attempt to reach this goal, the proceedings turned into as one board member noted, a “circus.” What seemed impossible to agree upon was the appropriate tax increase that would cover expenses and leave enough to put aside money to meet this expected deficit that may become an issue in the future. The difficulty in this is that it involves the board essentially looking into a “crystal ball” to see into the school and state’s financial issues.
Those of a more conservative nature felt a higher tax was acceptable. As Fisher had noted, the 2.79 percent tax increase proposed in May’s meeting offered only one public complaint, so the public, he felt was not at odds with raising the school taxes to the maximum. But others disagreed, and for a variety of reasons.
In the end, the board approved a 2 percent increase. But dissension was not simply over the issue of the PSERS fund. Other board members also objected and voted against all personnel changes, as they believed that the changes took away from necessary programs in lieu of other programs. One member voted no on all votes due solely to these personnel changes.
The final vote was close, but good enough to pass. The 5-4 vote was as follows: Brian Carso, Zachary Pearce, Fisher, Chuck Pike and Wroblewski, yes; Jack O’Leary, Jessica Decker, Lutfy and Sue Casey, no.... for complete story, get this week's issue.