Dear Keystone Oaks Community,
As you are aware, Pennsylvania schools have been directly impacted by the decisions made in Harrisburg, and the Keystone Oaks School District is no exception. At this time, the Commonwealth still does not have a 2015/2016 budget and ironically talks have begun for a 2016/2017 budget. While officials in school districts have been talking about closing doors and borrowing money since November, we have been watching every dollar we have been spending since the end of September so that we can keep operating without impacting education and having to take out a loan.
Since July 1, 2015, the District has only received $2,278,120 from the state, which only represents 20% of the total amount due to the District. Furthermore the state has taken the social security reimbursement payment and has diverted these funds to the charter schools. All of this has created severe cash flow problems in our District. To date, the District is still owed approximately $8,770,000.00 for the 2015/2016 school year.
As I work with my Administrative Team to prepare the 2016/2017 Budget, one thing is apparent - the consequences of the State Budget stalemate will be devastating if this continues into next school year. Courses may be eliminated. Class sizes may increase, Activities may be discontinued. New textbooks and supplies may be cut back or not purchased at all. Facility improvements may be put on hold. And, jobs may be eliminated.
This is not the type of District that I want to provide to the students of Keystone Oaks. The students of this community deserve better; I would hope that you would agree that these are not the conditions under which we want our children to be educated. There is only so much we can do locally, and we certainly cannot raise taxes by over $11,000,000 to balance a 2016/2017 Budget.
I urge you to contact the Governor and your State Legislators. I have included a list below and on our website that will give you access to all of the contact information for these individuals. I cannot stress enough to them that they collectively need to be a part of the solution and work with their colleagues to do what is right and implement a State Budget that invests in education.
It is uncertain as to when a completed State budget for 2015/2016 will be finalized. However, school districts were obligated to have their 2015/2016 budgets adopted by June 30, 2015, and are obligated to have their 2016/2017 budgets adopted by June 30, 2016. Because of a lack of a State budget, the certainty for the District to deliver a high quality education cannot be guaranteed.
The delay in a 2015/2016 state budget is negatively impacting our District and ultimately our students. This cannot continue. Below, you will find our current bank balances as of March 9, 2016:
General Fund $13,838,482
Cafeteria Fund $556,805
Construction Fund $2,017,466
Risk Management Fund $380,869
There are still many invoices that need to be paid from all of the above mentioned accounts as we continue until the end of this fiscal year, June 30, 2016. The General Fund Balance includes the approximate $4,750,000.00 that is in our savings. The Cafeteria Fund continues to remain steady and has allowed for upgrades in equipment and quality of food served to our students. The Construction Fund, which started off the year at over $7,000,000 to repair the parking lots and sidewalks, has aided in the badly needed upgrade to the HVAC equipment at all of the elementary schools and the Middle School along with updating the lighting throughout the entire District. These projects, when all completed, will bring value to our facilities. And finally, the Risk Management Fund continues to be depleted as we pay refunds on tax appeals from two years ago until the present.
The Pennsylvania Constitution states, "The General Assembly shall provide for the maintenance and support of a thorough and efficient system of public education to serve the needs of the Commonwealth." With the erosion of State funds and the political gridlock surrounding the 2015/2016 State Budget, the General Assembly is not fulfilling their responsibility to education.
At this time, we have begun to move towards borrowing money, approximately $8,500,000, to close the gap and to keep our doors open for the remainder of this school year. If the District is able to obtain a loan, the interest due to the bank will still have to be paid and will not be reimbursed by the state. This is despite our spending at this time being under budget for the 2015/2016 school year.
As we continue through the remainder of this school year, please look for updates on our website with regards to our fiscal status. And once again, I urge you to contact the Governor and your State Legislatures.
William P. Stropkaj, Ed.D.
How to contact Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf and the state legislators from southwestern Pennsylvania
- Via E-mail: please highlight the entire list of e-mail addresses and copy and paste them into the “To” line in a new e-mail.
email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com
- Via Social Media: Please download the Excel spreadsheet, available as an attachment below. Links to Facebook and Twitter accounts are provided for legislators that utilize social media.