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Moon Superintendent: Proposed State Budget Could Mean Cuts, Furloughs

Gov. Tom Corbett seeks $500 million reduction in the state's public education budget.

Donna Milanovich, superintendent for the Moon Area School District, said the district must re-evaluate its budget in light of proposed drastic cuts in state education funding

Gov. Tom Corbett unveiled a $27.3-billion proposed budget for Pennsylvania on Tuesday.

His budget plan calls for significant cuts to many state programs, including about $500 million for basic education. The governor also called for school districts to  hold the line on spending even if it means a pay freeze for school employees.

Milanovich said the reductions were more severe than the district had anticipated.

She said the proposed budget will account for $1.45 million in funding cuts to the district this year. In addition, the governor's elimination of accountability block grants will result in another $1.2 million in reductions to Moon schools.

The Moon Area School Board approved a $60 million preliminary budget for the district at its Feb. 15

Still, she said, the district has no plans to raise property taxes as a result of the proposed cuts.

"We were anticipating cuts and waiting to hear about the budget, but now everything has to be looked at in a new light,’’ Milanovich said. “And we hope the governor will give us the tools needed to manage the budget."

She said one of those potential tools is legislation introduced in Pennsylvania's House of Representives and Senate that would enable districts to furlough teachers if student enrollment drops or education programs shrink.

"The very last thing we'll do is raise taxes," she said. "We'll continue to look for places to build our budget and look for places to cut."

She said the district will also have to evaluate how it continues contract negotiations with its teachers union. Negotiations between the district and the Moon Area Education Association have spanned more than a year, with both parties clashing over teacher health care and pension contributions. Tensions between the district and union resulted in a 13-day teachers strike in November.

"We'll have to look at what we've been willing to offer [to the teachers union]," she said. "It's going to make things difficult."

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