Local School Facing Budget Battle

By Jim Madalinsky

Published 05/19 2014 11:01PM

Updated 05/19 2014 11:16PM

BELLWOOD, BLAIR COUNTY - Nearly 200 students, parents and concerned residents packed the auditorium at Bellwood Antis as the district tries to figure out how to handle an estimated $900,000 budget deficit.
Increasing health care costs, rising payouts to the retirement system, and an increase in bond payments are just a few reasons Bellwood Antis Superintendent Dr. Brian Toth says they need make some cuts.
“We really have to concentrate on how we can repurpose what we have and who we have but still get the job done with less people,” Dr. Toth says.
On Monday night the district laid out some potential cuts that they estimate would save nearly $600,000 including eliminating one custodian, not replacing most of the retiring teachers, and ending after school programs like drivers ed.
More than a dozen people spoke out at the meeting. They say they're frustrated with what they call a lack of communication.
“They haven't been as forthcoming as a lot of people would have liked. The communication has been fragmented at best,” Recent graduate Nicholas Adams says.
Dr. Toth says he understands that frustration, but says it's an issue districts throughout the state are facing as funding continues to drop.
“You can always go back now and say wow you needed a million dollars. That's true, but 10 years ago did we know that? No. Did we know that 5 years ago? No, we didn't,” Dr. Toth says.
The board plans to vote to approve next years budget Tuesday night, but any proposed cuts won't be made final for at least a few weeks.

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