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Lehighton: $2.1M deficit projected

Published November 13. 2019 01:24PM

Lehighton Area School District’s ongoing annual state audit will tell the official tale, but administrators painted a grim financial picture Monday night during an update before the school board’s finance committee.

Business Administrator Patricia Denicola said as of Monday, the total ending revenue for the 2018-19 school year is projected to be $42,101,764, compared to expenses of $43,944,734.

“The numbers won’t be official until the audit is completed, but that would put us at a loss of $1.8 million for 2018-19,” Denicola said. “When you look at the object areas, such as contracted services or supplies, for example, we overspent in just about every category.”

A larger deficit is currently projected for 2019-20 based on budgeted numbers. Lehighton’s 2019-20 budget calls for revenue of $41,361,426, compared to expenses of $43,894,495.

Denicola said the district did get a one-time revenue, $418,974, from the sale of Franklin Elementary School, bringing the projected shortfall to $2,111,095.

Lehighton’s business office, she said, remains hopeful the number can come down through a review of all expenses.

“We’re actively looking at every purchase order, every contract to see what expenses we can reduce to get that shortfall down,” Denicola said. “One thing we can also do as a district is put pressure on the state to adequately fund us.

“We’ve been looking at every subsidy number to make sure the data the state used to get to that number is correct. We had an issue previously with the special education numbers, but that has been corrected.”

Richard Beltz, school board director and finance committee member, said salaries and benefits are the biggest district expense each year. He suggested the business office create a proposal of what cuts to salaries and benefits would be needed over a four-year period to get Lehighton’s shortfall down to zero.

“I think we should try to solve this thing ourselves before we wait for the state to do something,” Beltz said.

Director David Bradley said it’s his belief the district has “an obvious consumption problem.” He blamed the finance committee and the full school board, which he is a member of, for a lack of oversight on administrative spending.

“The keys are given to the administration on a regular basis with no control,” Bradley said. “This board has the responsibility to show up and give no more to the administration than they need or that the district has budgeted for. This district’s budget is almost as big as Carbon County’s budget. Any benefits beyond what the state requires us to give our students is a luxury.”

Beltz offered Bradley his seat at the finance committee table.

“I listen to the experts and try to make the best decision I can based on that information,” Beltz said of his actions on the committee.

Bradley argued that Beltz had the capability to make decisions on his own, calling it just like managing home finances.

“If you’re at home and you’re spending more than you take in, you adjust,” Bradley said. “Maybe you turn the thermostat down or change your eating habits.”

Lehighton Superintendent Jonathan Cleaver said the comparison wasn’t fair.

“Your home doesn’t have unfunded mandates from the state or an insurance claim from an employee here or there that can really impact a budget,” Cleaver. “It’s not the same at all.”

When the 2018-19 audit is released, Cleaver said, the district will take a deeper dive into the numbers.

“Right now,” he said, “we’re making a good-faith effort every day to improve things.”

Budget transfers

Denicola said Monday the finance committee will get presentations on proposed budget transfers throughout the year.

“I don’t think that is something that has been done in the past here,” Denicola said. “Most districts routinely do budget transfers throughout the year.”

Transfers are allowed when a district, for example, budgets money for the facilities object code at the beginning of the year, but finds it would be better used under the instruction object code later.

“Budget transfers are allowed by School Code beginning Oct. 1,” Denicola said. “They have to be approved by the board. It helps you build a stronger budget throughout the year.”

Well Mr. Cleaver, if you're spending more than you take in, you make adjustments. I do it at home, especially after an unexpected bill comes in... say medical, or car repair. I would say Mr. Bradley is spot on in his statement. What's not comparable is the difference in the way my home is funded verses the way the S.D. gets funded. I can't just demand more pay, but you can increase taxes or "pressure the state". That is the only difference, funding, not spending. Cut Spending, listen to common sense, and stop bullying on common sense. No Room For Bullies
It's time to start looking at the invoices in those areas that went WAY over budget. Like "Supplies", over budget by $552,000.00+ and "Purchased Property Services", over budget by $1.1+ million, and then there are "Other Purchased Services", over budget by $824 thousand+, "Purchased Professional and Tech", over budget by $586,000+, and let's not forget "Other Uses Of Funds, over budget by $109,500+. Just those areas alone come to more than $2.5 million! The administration was on a spending spree. Time to find out what they bought and why! The new budget for 2019-2020 has $657,000+ budgeted for "Other Uses Of Funds". In 2018-2019 that area was budgeted at $5.56 million. A difference in budget of almost $5 million dollars. It makes you think now, doesn't it? I will be going through and looking at all the numbers budgeted for the new year. Some may make sense, but others? I'd say it's time to have a look at all those invoices, see what was purchased, where it went and let's add up the total costs. After all, they've reached into our wallets once again. And it was not questioned by most. It's time we hold the board, and the administration accountable for the spending spree. And put on the brakes for the future. It's time to spend on needs, not wants.
The State and Federal governments mandate the educational benefits our district is to provide. How we deliver those benefits and others is up to the community and the board.

The new schedule is a mess. It delivers less productive education at an extremely higher cost. Students are failing, and that is evidence that we not effectively using of educational funds.

The board need to be accountable and responsible. The immorality of our Rubber-stamping blind-trusting board members will be replaced by transparency, and lawful community control by the new moral majority board.

The sins of our past immoral board members will need to be rectified. The task is basic, and just requires the ability to define the needs to the community and have them agree, as the board are the public's servants.


Citizen David F. Bradley Sr.
Thank God Lehighton won't go bankrupt...
"A government can't actually go bankrupt, since they have taxpayers to pay for all their mistakes."
Keep an eye on them David, don't let them "swallow a lie". I don't know why they swallowed a lie, hope the new school is cool.
David, You're always quick to point out problems, but rarely ( maybe never ) offer any solution(s). By the way I don't buy that "failing to effectively use educational funds" causes "students to fail". Part or maybe most of a students success relates to the effort the kid puts into learning , especially out of the classroom. Parents need to step up and mentor their children.
Already proposed:

Step one: Form a Task Force of Nathan Foeller, Beers, Bradley
Step two: Identify and list the State and Federal educational benefits for review by the moral board.
Step Three: Review the budgets and all the past expenses, transparently with the community. Remove the corruption and waste.
Step Four: Decide. Get the community to support the board on a moral path to protect the children, educate the children and save the community.

Accept it, the past immoral board members rubber stamped their subordinate employees without proper oversight. They proverbially gave the fox keys to the hen house. The world has shifted, Nathan Foeller is a self proclaimed Christian, business person, just like me. Hate us if you choose, but the truth only hurts those hiding it.
Fixing this is not a big issue, basic common sense.
The government education program is a series of defined benefits. The fact that this government failed to maintain fiscal responsibility is a bad thing. But, those bad board members are gone. It took nearly a decade to remove them all, but, this election shifter the board to a moral majority.

I will meet with every citizen that has a skill or knowledgeable access to skills to help set this government back onto a sustainable budget. Other districts have done it, so can we. Take pride in the resourcefulness of human ambition focused on a moral goal. Business leaders build a trusted, skilled team. We are missing the trusted part. Discipline, and rigid principles. We'll get it done.

God Bless America, and thank you voters. The immoral crew are now a minority.


Citizen David F. Bradley, Sr.
Not true. Solutions have been offered. Looking at the invoices was only one of them but that was blocked. Unbelievable and completely ridiculous. Gonna, would you pay a bill without knowing what you are paying for? Only seeing to whom it is paid and an amount to pay?
An admission Citizen David Bradley was correct all along. He may a little gruff around the corners, his demeanor can be abrasive, but everything he has stated has come to fruition. Get over his approach and LISTEN TO HIS SPOT ON message(s).
The board has a moral majority.

I have already shifted into fixing the actions of the past evil doers.
Identify situation, review options, take moral actions, reevaluate. Continuous improvement.

Antics drive attention, attention motivates voters, voters apply moral judgement removing immoral public officials. Four left. We have a majority.

God Bless America. We have two years left to fix it. Transparency, public input to public servants. A government of, by and for the people.


Citizen David F. Bradley Sr.

Thanks to ALL the morons who kept voting for those hometown jerks hope you like your tax increases! I have a suggestion on how to make up the deficit have the hometown A@@holes pay for it!!!!!@!@
Payback time. We will transparently exposed the data, remove the corruption and waste, protect the students and save the community.

This is not hard, just requires a moral set of rigid principles. This is a government entitlement program of free educational benefits. Discipline is the key to a sustainable budget.


Citizen David F. Bradley Sr.
Unfortunately the damage is done the hometown JERKS built both schools and a fafafafootball stadium we do not need ! So everything else is just water under the bridge so unless those 5 present idiots want to pay for everything we got raped!
Yes, in some ways it is done, but we can keep them from continuing the spending spree. It is time for the townspeople to pressure them into doing their jobs and provide oversight of the administration.
Aa Barb the eternal optimist , the stupidity of these IDIOTS goes all the way back to when Mr Hill passed away and at that point these jerks have controlled the district. Do you really think they care? They have no ethics and nepotism runs amuck in this no where town. Good Luck
Have they shopped these items and services out on a yearly basis? Or do they just hand the business to their friends?

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