Milton Schools Facing $2 Million Deficit: Pandemic Costs, Cyber Charter School Costs a Factor
MILTON – Like all school districts in the Valley, the Milton Area School District is facing a significant budget deficit for next year due to pandemic-related costs, more charter school payouts and not enough state reimbursement. It’s unsustainable, Milton Superintendent Dr. Cathy Keegan told us recently.
She said the district gave initial approval to a $2 million budget deficit for the 2021-22 school year,
“With salaries and benefits, we continue to see a rise and an increase, and every year we struggle to say ‘Ok, what can go this year?’ At some point, there has to be a balance. The whole funding formula for public education needs to change.”
That’s because all districts are facing more cyber school costs, but state funding towards that has stopped despite the unfunded mandate continuing, “For a student in the Milton Area School District to attend an external cyber school, we have to pay approximately $15,000 a child. If that child receives special education services, it can cost up to $25,000 a child.”
Dr. Keegan says her district is facing cyber charter funding being deducted directly from Milton’s basic education subsidy, something that hasn’t been done before, “We have faced an approximately $7,000 deduction in the past month, and when we went in and checked the enrollment, they were not Milton students. So now, we’re going to back to this external cyber academy and demanding that are funding be returned to us.”
The good news is Milton would benefit from Governor Tom Wolf’s new funding formula if its passed. Dr. Keegan says the pandemic has also forced the district to purchase hundreds of internet hot spots for remote learning, plus extra cleaning, sanitizing and other supplies to keep students and teachers safe. Hear more from Dr. Keegan on the WKOK Podcast page.