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Seidenberger: EPSD Must Save for Rainy Days

Superintendent of Schools Thomas L. Seidenberger says the East Penn School District is facing a minimum $3.2 million shortfall in 2013-2014 when the budget process starts in September.

Superintendent of Schools Thomas L. Seidenberger tried to put the into black and white terms at last night’s East Penn Board of School Director’s meeting – or black and red to be exact.

“A couple of people asked me to do forecasting during this budget cycle,” Seidenberger said, “but I didn’t put numbers behind the forecasting. I am going to do that tonight.”

Before discussing the 2013-2014 forecast, Seidenberger emphasized that about $4 million of the much-talked-about fund $12 million fund balance is actually being used in the 2012-2013 budget.

But, he would caution against using any more of the remaining $8 million in 2012-2013, since East Penn will be facing some significant budget challenges in 2013-2014, including a maximum 1.7 percent tax index.

“The eligible funds we might be able to raise through taxation are about $1.9 million less that we have this year,” he said.

Seidenberger then ticked off a list of expenses East Penn is already facing for 2013-2014:

  • Salaries - $2,208,057
  • Retirement (PSERS) - $1,342,921
  • Health Insurance - $722,087 (estimated)
  • Social Security/Workers’ Compensation - $99,915
  • Charter Schools - $716,002
  • Transportation $194,124

Plus, he said, everyone still needs to keep in mind the impact of a bevy of budget unknowns ranging from Special Education numbers to real estate tax appeals and the Allentown NIZ (Neighborhood Improvement Zone). Even the recent will play into the 2013-2014 budget, he said.

“When I do those calculations,” Seidenberger said, “we are looking at a minimum deficit of $3.2 million. For that reason alone, I would be reluctant to say ‘hey let’s use more of the fund balance.’

“Let the fund balance alone, next year, we are going to need every tool that we have,” he said.

ted.dobracki June 12, 2012 at 11:40 AM
If EPSD is the already truely at a $4 million deficit for the 2012-13 budget, which would burn almost half of the existing fund balance $10 million before 2013-14, why wouldn't the board direct more cuts or a larger tax increase now? It seems irresponsible to spend so much of the fund balance now, and I don't think they really want to do that. Something doesn't add up here. What gives? I don't believe that they are really doing this. No one would be so foolish. You don't pass a budget with a $4 million deficit, (or $10 million deficit if the reserve would be spent). There's more to it than meets the eye.
tamarya June 12, 2012 at 04:04 PM
I agree those balances, which are reasonable balances do not take up near what they are getting, so where is the rest going. I understand you have utilities between all the schools and maintence and other staff, like nurses and cafeteria workers, but still where is the rest going. Oh yeah probably to all those not much needed programs the school offers.
Garrett Rhoads June 12, 2012 at 05:35 PM
Dr. Seidenberger's remarks last night were very convenient for those who are pushing for more tax increases. Curious as to why he was not at the meeting when the budget was actually being discussed. As is typical in the budget cycle, the administration paints the worst possible scenario they can trying to cover as many bases as they can think of. They get people running around like Chicken Little screaming that, "the sky is falling!" financially to justify more tax increases. Once the increases pass, we suddenly have all kinds of money for pet projects, iPads for visiting dignitaries, six figure salaries for support staff at the administrative level (the superintendent's secretary earns north of $90K per year), $275 "smart pens" in every classroom for projector activated white boards, smart carts loaded down with laptops to be used in classrooms that have computers already installed, hundreds of thousands of dollars every year paying for advanced degrees for our teachers so they can qualify for even higher salaries, etc... Don't simply take the word of the benefactors of our tax dollars as gospel. Do your own research. Take apart the budget for yourself. I did. What you will find will make you angry.
truth seeker June 12, 2012 at 06:17 PM
I'm thankful for a superintendent who understands the uncertainty of budgeting and looks to achieve a ballance between education and taxation. In the face of reduced revenues, increased costs and state cuts the district managed to spend less on the present budget than last year. It's funny that the haters of education at the state level sound so much like our local education haters. I agree with the idea of finding out the facts for yourself. Take a look at what is going on in local districts, districts around the state, and grab the budget and take a look for yourself. Glad I live here!
truth seeker June 12, 2012 at 06:25 PM
Sounds like prudent planning: http://www.mcall.com/news/local/eastpenn/mc-east-penn-school-board-0611-20120612,0,371155.story "If the governor's budget blows up and isn't approved we may have to pay teacher's salaries over the summer," Ballard said. "We should be increasing capital reserves and the fund balance as we are in perilous economic times." The superintendent forecasted that the fund balance will be necessary to help balance next year's budget. Seidenberger anticipates increased costs in salaries, pension, health care, Social Security, charter schools and transportation that will equate to a $3.2 million deficit for the 2013-14 budget
Chuck Ballard June 12, 2012 at 08:28 PM
Being cheap, petty and vindictive often leads to anger management issues. Trying to make a conspiracy out of someone being sick and missing a meeting is a typical tactic of someone with such issues. The IPads were mentioned as being loaned to visiting school board members and administrators who would be visiting East Penn next year as we become the only school in Pennsylvania to have our educational technology showcased for the nation by the National School Boards Association as part of their education technology site visit program. East Penn would be one of only 4 school districts in the country being honored by NSBA for having outstanding programs that other schools would want to copy. I am sorry you have never been in a position where educational attainment has been rewarded, but look around at any of the users of technology in the valley, like PPL or Air Products and you will see many professionals with Masters and PHD degrees making more than $100k a year. These companies also offer tuition reimbursement to their employees to get advanced degrees. There are warehouse managers in Upper Macungie making as much or more than the superintendent according to salary.com. Public employees are not 'benefactors of our tax dollars', they are employees of a public entity that gets tax dollars to do what the legislature has demanded they do. The salaries are determined by market forces, no matter what you want to believe to justify your position that you shouldn't have to pay.
Robert Sentner June 12, 2012 at 08:41 PM
you guys crack me up. There is no more money to squeeze out of the residents, start laying administartors off. I'll bet they find ways to cut the budget then. What a JOKE. salary increases for what ??? stay satus quo like the rest of us poor working all YEAR slobs.
Rob Hamill June 12, 2012 at 09:42 PM
The simple solution is to lower salaries and benefits to parity with the private sector, which could be as much as 50% less. The pensions and benefits are 44% above what the salary is, and the majority on this board were elected with huge teacher union support, so until we heave them out, education will suffer and taxes will go up. Siedenberger is the manifestation of a symptom with the pro-union spouting off on regular occasions. $15,000/year/student should either produce something better than what we have, or it should be farmed out to the private sector and let good old fashioned competition and profit motive produce a better product.
optimist June 12, 2012 at 10:15 PM
East Penn students continue to benefit from a terrific education. Some people are good at hating and some are good at educating. Telling lies and distortions do not change the facts.
Jeff Lotte June 13, 2012 at 12:09 AM
Over 2.2 million dollars in salary increases...AGAIN! WTF happened to wage FREEZES??? This 2.2+ million dollars can easily be wiped from their budget.There is NO money out here to give increases, in these economic conditions the tax payers are not getting any increases in salaries and pensions, why is it that the public sector employees ALWAYS have to get theirs, regardless of the economic conditions? Over 10,000 families lose their homes every year (and rising) due to the GREEDINESS of public sector unions and the administrators who are in bed with the union officials, in government and school districts alike. The citizens need to stand up and tell these people flat out that they are NOT going to be getting ANY wage increases, if they do not like it they can go work somewhere else. And the part about the MEDIAN income for East Penn being almost $65,000 a year comes from the minority of millionaires living in the district, not the majority of taxpayers and REGULAR working folk. We just flat out can not afford to make the extra payments on your Mercedes for the kids, and your beach mansions, sorry but we gotta eat.
optimist June 13, 2012 at 01:03 AM
Just talked to some guys at air products getting nice raises. Some of my other friends who own their own businesses turing a nice profit. Still looking for the first person who has lost their home because of a union. I here that all the time but it seems to be emprty rhetoric. I do know a lot of people who do not want to pay for education for one reason or another. One guy who said that, I saw a few weeks later at the Sands??? Some really neat states with terrible education systems where I suppose school taxes are much lower. The local populace is also much more ignorant. I guess it's a matter of priorities.
Robert Sentner June 13, 2012 at 12:25 PM
you know what the problem is ? its the way its spelled out, how about we just pay all the teachers the money that we contribute to there pensions. They can invest it however they would like, If they invested wisely they win, if they didn't they loose--- But I am not on the hook as a tax payer to make up for the difference. I really don't care what teachers make a year, if they are working for it. But the reality is there is some GREAT teachers that go above and beyond what they are required and there are some TERRIBLE teachers that would get fired in any normal job. the whole system is broken and the union's and legislators are in bed with each other covering each others ASS. It's enough live within your means. with modest increases. reform the current pension to a non- defined. would end alot of bitching.
Lower Mac Resident June 13, 2012 at 06:22 PM
http://getoutofdebt.org/43854/youre-getting-poorer-why-debt-least-your-concerns
Lower Mac Resident June 13, 2012 at 06:24 PM
I agree with Rob, if these teachers were part of a private union where they were actually reviewed and canned when they didn't do a good job, we would be in a different spot. I think we have good teachers overall, but I also think and hear from many parents that we have some teachers that need to go. This whole protection under the public union is bull ****.....
Jeff Lotte June 14, 2012 at 12:04 PM
That is great for you, Optimist. I'm really happy that all of the people you know are doing great. Fact is that the MAJORITY of people are not enjoying the perks of working for Companies like Air Products or small businesses that are turning big profits, or public sector unions. This is where the problem lies, the majority of us can't afford to keep paying more and more because we are not getting wage increases of any kind. The cost of living has gone up about 30% in the past 4 years, the average income per household has not gone up at all, it has actually fallen in many instances. Do the math, it doesn't work for us.The people who make these decisions do not know what it is like to choose between eating or having heat and electricity in their homes. BTW, public sector union demands are one of the ways that our taxes are increased all the time, the higher and higher tax demands are what makes people default and lose their homes (at least that is the reason for at least 10,000 homeowners a year in PA.)
optimist June 14, 2012 at 12:17 PM
Ya I here a lot of that from people like yourself that do not feel they should have to pay for education. The EP school district offers a tax rebate to social security seniors that qualify (they do not have to do this). If anybody cannot afford their house why is it not because the price of fuel went up or medical care or groceries? lots of costs going up at a higher rate. A 1.5% increase is barely worth one night out for a family at a resteraunt. Just admit that education is not part of your value system. It's not because you know people losing a house. The teachers I know start at a relativiely low salary and get small increases each year they teach. They are not rich despite the evil union. Yes good benefits. A lot of unions taking freezes around the state due to economy. But I guess they will always be eveil in your eyes no matter what. The price of ignorance is much higher.
Jeff Lotte June 14, 2012 at 09:48 PM
I'm impressed, lookin at the rest of your spelling and punctuations that you actually spelled "education" correct. Maybe you should spend more quality time with the teachers you know. How would you ASSume that I "feel I don't have to pay for education"? Did I state that somewhere? I simply stated that now, in these economic times, that there is no GOOD reason why they NEED more money. After looking at the salaries in the EPSD, I see that the lowest paid teacher makes over 45 grand a year plus benefits, not a bad starting salary for a less than full time employment.How many days do they work, less than 200 days? Most of the teaching staff makes 10 grand or more above this salary, I can not see where any of them can be crying poverty, therefore there is no reason to burden us with more taxes to cover their increases in salaries and benefits at this time. When it comes to spending other peoples money it's always more more more. Maybe if they were faced with making the budget work without any increases or the increases would come directly from the administrative salaries funds, they would surely find a way. Takin from everyone under them so they can keep theirs is the way of tyrants and many many of us have had enough of this crap.
optimist June 14, 2012 at 10:03 PM
I think your values are easy to see. Thanks for the spelling lesson. By the way takin should spelled taking. I have not seen anybody crying poverty so I guess that's more rhetoric. Good stuff though. If you spread enough hatred and blame so many other things easily fall into place. We will be Mississippi before you know it.
Macungie resident June 15, 2012 at 02:04 PM
I’ll tell you one way the district can save a little money. Enforce a call-out policy like the rest of us workers have to abide by. Then they won’t have to pay so much for substitutes along with the teachers salaries. Willow Lane teachers take off VERY FREQUENTLY. Why is this ok with Dr. Moyer? My son’s 5th grade teacher had 1 ½ months off for a family emergency back in Nov/December. She then took many sick days off throughout the spring, and actually WENT ON VACATION 2 weeks before her SUMMER VACATION. My daughter’s 3rd grade teacher was absent so much that even my 9 year old was questioning why she was able to be out so much without “getting into trouble.” She was out once a week, easily. Why is this ok? I would have been fired a long time ago. Yet they remain secure in their jobs, making a very nice salary/pension. Should I question Dr. Moyer or the superintendant about this?
Robert Sentner June 15, 2012 at 02:19 PM
Tenure........was what I was talking about in a previous post, there are some fantastic teachers that deserve everything they get and MORE, and there are some that should be fired on the spot. Not saying that this teacher should be fired as I do not know the circumstances, But I am sure it cost the east penn tax payers a bundle.
Jeff Lotte June 17, 2012 at 09:28 PM
LOL! This just is not worth any more of my time.Things in this young nation have about run full circle in 250 years. We will either fail as a free nation or we will be forced to stand up and once again fight for freedom from oppressive government. see ya on the front lines cowboy! LMAO
ted.dobracki March 28, 2013 at 03:51 AM
As we enter the final, more public, stages of the 2013-14 budget planning cycle, it's appropriate to re-examine how every year EPSD pleads that they are using the fund balance or reserves to balance the budget. But is that really true? As you can see from my remarks above (the first comment under the original article), I questioned the wisdom using $4 million of the fund balance, if that was really true. Why would presumably responsible board members like Mr. Earnshaw point this out and do nothing about it except to complain that a $4 million deficit was better than a $5 million deficit under a zero tax increase budget? As I said then, there's more to it than meets the eye. And here is some: In their last three budgets, EPSD says they have planned $2.7 million, $3.1 million, and $4.0 deficits, while in the first two of those years, the surplus has been $1.7 million and $3.2 million. (the final budget year is still in progress is still in progress, and results will probably be similar) I'd be the first to say that a decent fund balance is important and a falling fund balance would be an indication of problems, but neither is the case. In just the two last completed years, the culmulative $4.9 million surplus has allowed the EPSD's fund balance to increase from $10.1 million to $15.0 million, while they are claiming poverty, invoking pay freezes and reductions in services. Both taxpayers and parents should be alarmed about the priorities.

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