Chartiers-Houston School District prepares for layoffs

June 10, 2014
Chartiers-Houston Community Library board President Bill Hill addresses the local school board Monday about a funding crisis that threatens to close the library. - Scott Beveridge / Observer-Reporter Order a Print

Chartiers-Houston School District administrators are seeking approval from the state Department of Education to announce furloughs to help erase a $1 million deficit.

Superintendent John George, meanwhile, said at a budget workshop meeting Monday the district will eliminate club sponsors and some paid faculty sponsor positions, as well as make cuts in the athletic department, to curb spending in the 2014-15 budget.

“Any furloughs have to be approved by the Department of Education. We hope to have that Monday,” George said.

Directors then discussed staffing issues behind closed doors before convening a work session before next Monday’s voting meeting, when the board is expected to adopt the district’s $17.3 million budget that could include a 9-mill real estate tax increase.

Chartiers-Houston, like many districts, is struggling to meet expenses because of cuts in state funding and increases in health care and retirement benefits. The state also is withholding from the district nearly $250,000 in reimbursements for construction and renovation projects because Pennsylvania put a moratorium on the program, school board President Richard M. Hall said.

The district’s surplus dwindled from $6 million to $3 million, an amount that would only meet four payrolls in an emergency, district business manager Don Bennett said.

Hall said the district also generously supported the Chartiers-Houston Community Library through a $50,000 annual grant, something that is likely to be pulled from the district’s budget and threatens the library’s ability to stay open.

“It’s impossible to raise that kind of money in a month,” library board President Bill Hill said before the budget committee meeting. “We are going to have to close our doors.”

Hall later said the library isn’t receiving that amount of a donation next school term.

The superintendent also read off a long list of faculty advisory positions that will be eliminated, moves that would save the district $45,000.

They include a choral director position, the junior high school student class advisor and an extracurricular activities role. George also said there will be just one boys basketball team for seventh- and eighth-graders, rather than the existing two teams. The ninth-grade team will be eliminated and its players placed in the junior varsity program. Some assistant coaching positions will be eliminated in wrestling, track and softball. The business manager position overseeing the school’s bulletin also will be eliminated.

Scott Beveridge is a North Charleroi native who has lived most of his life in nearby Rostraver Township. He is a general assignments reporter focusing on investigative journalism and writing stories about the mid-Mon Valley. He has a bachelor's degree from Indiana University of Pennsylvania and a master's from Duquesne University. Scott spent three weeks in Vietnam in 2004 as a foreign correspondent under an International Center for Journalists fellowship.

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