FARRELL SCHOOLS Deficits cut into fund

The district has $365,000 in its savings account.
FARRELL, Pa. -- The good news is that deficit spending by the Farrell Area School District is decreasing.
The bad news is that several years of deficits have nearly wiped out the school district's budget fund balance, which is sort of a savings account for school districts.
Tom Libeg of McGill, Power, Bell & amp; Associates of Hermitage, outlined the district's financial standings at a school board meeting Monday. He reviewed an audit report on the fiscal year, which ended June 30.
Deficit: Farrell ended the year with a $279,799 deficit in a general fund budget of $10.3 million, he said. More than $100,000 of that was spent on natural gas costs which jumped sharply last year, catching the school district by surprise, he said.
That's a substantial amount of red ink, but it's considerably smaller than the year-end deficit two years ago of $700,000, Libeg told the board.
Last year's deficit also was just over $270,000, he said.
Things have improved as the board tries to control spending, but the fund balance surplus is dwindling, he warned, noting it is now down to $365,000.
Superintendent Richard Rubano said the board is familiar with the district's financial situation and has had to rely on the fund balance to provide money for the budget in lieu of raising property taxes.
There have been spending cuts, he said, pointing out the fund balance could have easily been wiped out a couple of years ago had those cuts not been implemented.
Hard decisions: The board will be facing some tough decisions when it gets to work on the 2002-2003 budget next spring, Rubano said.
There's not much left to cut, he said, noting that 84 percent of the budget is in employee salaries.
In other business, the board hired the president of the Sharon school board as an elementary teacher effective next Monday.
Lora Adams-King, who has been an instructional aide in Farrell this year, will fill a teaching post created by the retirement of Sophia Gargano, who spent 31 years in the district.
Adams-King will start at an annual salary of $32,022.
School Director Larry Manilla asked if there is any possible conflict of interest with Adams-King accepting the job while serving on the Sharon school board.
"It's perfectly legal," said Atty. James Nevant, school board solicitor, adding that it is a fairly common practice for a teacher in one district to be a member of a school board in another.

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