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Carlisle Schools

Carlisle school district is looking at a budget gap of $3.6 million for 2022-23

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Carlisle Area School District

Pictured is the entryway to Carlisle High School.

With just over five months to go before a vote on final adoption, Carlisle Area School Board members are looking at a projected deficit of about $3.6 million in the district’s 2022-23 budget.

Business Manager Jenna Kinsler briefed the board Thursday on proposed expenditures totaling $99,195,000. This compares to revenue projections of $95,547,000 for a $3,648,000 shortfall.

Since any effort to balance the budget could include a real estate tax increase, Kinsler presented a chart outlining the options along with an estimate on how much revenue each percentage increase could generate.

The options range from a 1% increase yielding $504,000 in revenue to 4.4% yielding $2,220,000 in revenue. The 4.4% increase would be the maximum tax increase allowable under Act 1.

Even if the board goes with the larger tax increase, the revenue generated would still fall short by about $1,428,000 based on projections.

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No decisions were made Thursday. The district is early in its budget cycle with months of deliberation ahead. It has been the past practice of the board to bundle tax hikes with cuts to expenditures and drawdowns from strategic reserves.

The current schedule has administrators presenting a final version of a preliminary budget on May 5 followed by a board vote May 12 to put the fiscal plan on public display.

A final budget could be presented to the board on June 9 followed by a board vote June 16 to adopt the fiscal plan effective July 1, 2022, through June 30, 2023.

Meanwhile, this February, Gov. Tom Wolf will present his proposed state budget, which includes subsidies for school districts to help offset basic education and special education expenses.

“I have no privileged information on what the governor is going to propose,” Carlisle board member Rick Coplen said Thursday. “However, if he is true to form, he will likely ask for an increase in basic education funding, special education funding and probably pre-K [kindergarten] funding. Hopefully, our state will do a better job of helping us out so we don’t have to raise taxes as much.”

The governor can propose a budget and lobby in support of it. But it is up to the General Assembly to vote on the budget.

A Democrat, Wolf is in the last year of his final term. Currently, the Republican Party controls the state Senate and House of Representatives.

In the past, Carlisle school administrators have been conservative in projecting state revenue, keeping the line almost level for years in anticipation of no major increase in subsidies. But during the presentation Thursday, there was some cautious optimism expressed by Bruce Clash, the board member who serves as finance committee chairman.

A Republican leader in charge of an appropriations committee has indicated a willingness to consider an increase in public education funding, Clash said. “The state is in better shape than it has been in a long time. Revenues are way up. I think we may see an increase, as we get closer.”

Email Joseph Cress at jcress@cumberlink.com.

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