The Herald, Sharon, Pa.

November 21, 2013

Levy money frees Brookfied schools from fiscal-emergency status

Districts exits state oversight after 6 months

By Sandy Scarmack
Herald Staff Writer

BROOKFIELD — Barely six months into its fiscal emergency status, Brookfield school district is ready to get out.

Treasurer David Drawl told the board that it has met most of the conditions needed to be released from fiscal emergency and out from under the thumb of a state-appointed fiscal oversight committee, in particular the 5-year forecast which shows a surplus each year.

A state auditor will review the forecast, which shows no deficit “going forward” Drawl said, and he said he doesn’t see any conditions that will prevent the district from exiting fiscal emergency. Drawl also asked the board for its approval to borrow money as a tax-anticipation note until new revenue from the passed levy and monies from the state start to come in.

“So we’re looking at a temporary cash-flow issue, but otherwise we are OK,” he said.

The board had the option of remaining in fiscal emergency and requesting that the auditor do a one-year fiscal forecast, but unanimously agreed there was no benefit to remaining under state oversight.

“We had a revenue problem, not a spending problem. Now that we have money coming in from the levy that the community graciously supported and an increase in money from the state, it would be prudent to move forward and get out of fiscal emergency,” said director Tim Filipovich.

Board President Kelly Bianco said she agrees with pursuing an exit from that status, if only because the administration has the “unnecessary” regulatory oversight of answering both to local directors and the state committee. “I think it’s a distraction,” she said.

In another matter, Superintendent Tim Saxton said the district is looking into a backpack program to benefit low-income students who may not have enough to eat on weekends. Under a program through the Second Harvest food bank, the district needs to raise $22,500 by July to be able to send backpacks full of food home starting next year.

The backpacks would contain juices, milk, cereal and heat and serve foods, as well as fruits and snacks, he said.  The cost is about $350 per child, per year, he said.

Other districts are operating similar programs and Saxton said he’s reached out to those districts for information.

“I think it’s something that would greatly benefit our students. We need to start fundraising for that as soon as possible,” he said.

Students who are eligible for the free lunch program would be able to apply, he said.