Let’s talk about Act 13.
This is in response to Tom Bodnovich’s Feb. 15 letter regarding the financial situation in Trinity Area School District.
Recently, Trinity’s auditor released the results of the 2013-14 audit. This audit, coupled with the auditor general’s report, identified the actions that have led to Trinity’s current financial state.
• From 2011 to 2014, spending increased, and in at least two of those years, spending exceeded revenue. In the 2012-13 school year, Trinity’s spending was over budget by $2.9 million. At that time, Trinity’s leadership chose not to raise taxes, and despite the warnings of the auditors, used general fund money to make up the $2.9 shortfall. From 2010 to 2013, the general fund balance decreased from $5 million to $940,000, a decrease of 80 percent. This is akin to not being able to control your family budget and using your retirement or savings account to pay for food and utility bills. Using the fund balance to balance a budget, such as the previous board did, depleted Trinity’s “savings” account.
• Besides flagrant spending, the teacher’s retirement plan, dictated by the state, continued to increase, costs for charter school students were on the rise and special education costs skyrocketed. At the same time, state funding was drastically reduced in these areas. During 2007 and 2008, the board approved a tax decrease, only compounding the problem by decreasing Trinity’s revenue. Districts today that are in solid financial shape are the ones that anticipated future increases and expenses, and minimally raised taxes and controlled spending. That was not the path chosen in Trinity.
• The auditor general’s report, which covers 2008 to 2012, states that “Trinity is in a financially declining position. The district passed an unbalanced budget for the most recently completed school year (2011-12). As a result, the district did not comply with the Public School Code. This noncompliance could cause the district to incur a deficit fund balance … The passing of a budget with a deficit fund balance is an indicator of poor governance by the board of directors and an inability of the administrative staff to accurately prepare a valid budget.”
• The audit report also addressed the $5 million dollar bond issue. The auditors stated that payments in excess of 10 percent of the budget could negatively affect the educational programs of the district. This is the situation in which Trinity finds itself.
Due to past decisions and increased expenses, both seen and unforeseen, current Trinity administrators and school board members are being forced to make difficult decisions. Continued spending and a refusal to raise taxes had a devastating effect on the district’s cash flow. It would be irresponsible of this board to continue those actions and not consider raising taxes. However, that is not the only avenue Trinity is exploring. Reviewing and restructuring Trinity’s debt to be in compliance with the auditor general’s recommendation is one consideration. Continued curtailing of spending, as was initiated in the 2013-14 budget, is paramount to getting Trinity back on track.
The board has and continues to have public meetings for the purpose of discussing all of our options. The public is invited and encouraged to attend finance meetings. Refer to the district’s website for meeting information.
Baiting deer with food, trapping and killing them, which is being done in Mt. Lebanon, is cold-blooded and cruel.
Hunters kill for food, but Mt. Lebanon kills just because deer get in the way of progress. If people don’t like animals, why don’t they stay in the city and leave the country to the animals, and the people who like animals?
We enjoy watching the deer and other animals eating and playing in our yard. They don’t hurt anything and are just trying to survive.
God put animals on this planet for us to enjoy. Now, Mt. Lebanon wants to take them off the planet.
“Liquor privatization bill clears House hurdle” was a recent Observer-Reporter headline. More than a few letters to the editor and Observer-Reporter editorials reflect a desire to see this happen and, frankly, I don’t get it.
The state runs this profitable business with convenient locations that offer customers a wide variety of products at competitive prices, while fairly compensating competent and helpful employees. I can get a bottle of liquor just as easily as a loaf of bread. What’s the problem?
The primary beneficiaries of privatization will be those who have enough capital to purchase a franchise. So, let’s eliminate thousands of living-wage jobs so we can create a windfall for people who are already doing just fine, a clear illustration of redistribution of capital – only upward.
I repeat: I don’t get it.
Recently, President Obama suggested students should be able to attend community college for two years for free. He even said that the first two years of community college should become a standard for students, much like the primary school years.
Although students are expected to maintain a grade point average of a 2.5 to continue receiving community college free of charge, the whole idea of receiving free higher education rubs me the wrong way.
Speaking from a college senior’s prospective, I have some serious misgivings about the idea of a free higher education, as I stare at a pile of student loans that will follow me for the next 30 years. While I know that college can be a serious burden for some who dream of pursuing a career that requires extensive education, I commend those who will do whatever it takes to gain that education. However, for those who did not have the opportunity to receive free education, what is our degree actually worth if everyone can acquire one for free?
Two days after a train carrying highly volatile crude oil derailed, shooting fireballs into the sky and sending an oil-filled car into West Virginia’s Kanawha River, it was still burning. And now, questions are burning too: Are these trains coming through our neighborhoods?...
In 1972, I wanted to run for student government president at Trinity High School. I wasn’t a jock or an honor student, nor was I that popular. But I wanted to make a difference. Some students believed in me, most did not, and even some teachers thought it was a bad idea. But I was......