SDoL board adopts $233.1 million budget for 2020-2021

The School District of Lancaster unanimously adopted a $233.1 million budget for the upcoming school year that uses millions in savings from the COVID-19 school closure to close the deficit without furloughing staff.

The district faced a $13.1 million deficit, including nearly $3 million in projected local revenue losses from the economic shutdown to battle the pandemic. However, the district projects having an extra $4 million in reserves due to the school closure.

The board raised taxes by 1.87 percent, $67 for the average property in the city assessed at $163,185.

“I’m struck by the fact that we’re really entering an unknown, and the superintendent is entering an unknown, we don’t really know what the expenses will be and we have to support going forward,” director Lois Strause said during deliberations. “That unfortunately is going to mean a tax increase, but I think we can only do that responsibly for our students.”

Board president Dr. Edith Gallagher and vice president Mara Creswell McGrann expressed concern that the economic downturn could cause Act 1 limits on the board’s taxing authority to tighten in the coming years.

We may not have an option of raising taxes if those indices change,” Gallagher said. “I think if we go too low now, we’re digging ourselves a big hole.”

The budget includes $3.8 million in budget adjustments, but does not furlough any staff. Some savings are realized through eliminating 23 vacant positions.