Pa. school districts anticipate further cuts

    More than half of Pennsylvania’s school districts expect to scale back their offerings in response to generally having less money to spend.

    But they’re cautioning against calls from some state lawmakers to use savings once again to balance their budgets.

    A survey of 281 of the commonwealth’s 500 school districts shows next year will bring larger classes and fewer field trips for most students as schools grapple with low tax revenues and limited government funding.

    Officials at more than 20 percent of the participating school districts said they had spent more than half of the uncommitted funds in their savings accounts in the last two years to cover costs.

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    Eric Eshbach, superintendent of the Upper Adams School District in Adams County, said it’s a bad idea for schools to spend down their fund balance, when rising pension costs loom on the horizon.

    “The contention is out there that it’s a rainy day and we need to use our rainy day fund. I would contend that it’s a rainy decade and for most school districts, we have about three days worth of rainy day fund to get through that decade,” Eshbach said. “What do we do when it’s over?”

    A majority of the surveyed districts said they’re planning to furlough employees and not fill empty positions next year.

    The third annual survey was conducted by the Pennsylvania Association of School Business Officials and the Pennsylvania Association of School Administrators.

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