The COVID-19 pandemic has been brutal for budgets everywhere, and Westmoreland County’s public schools were no exception. Unfortunately, there was a bit more information on the already dwindling school budgets at this month’s School Board meeting. Deputy Superintendent Cathy Rice was on hand to explain the developments, particularly what had changed since the last update during May’s meeting.

“We had a current budget of $23,912,351 for 2019-2020,” Rice explained. “The budget you adopted for 20-21 came in at $22,827,811, because we anticipated about a $1 million reduction in our revenue streams. Following the pandemic and the Governor’s budget revisions, we’re anticipating an additional $1 million.”

Translation? This means the budget clocks in at $21,734,904, which is over a $2 million loss. As mentioned earlier, Rice had presented the revised budget expenditures to the board back in May that accounted for the losses in revenue, but in order to bring expenditures in line with anticipated revenue, $104,188 still needed to be cut, and that was the subject of the update Rice had brought along.

“We are able to account for $57,384 due to staff resignations and new appointments,” she explained further, “Essentially higher-paid staff retiring or resigning, and the positions being filled with newer individuals lower on the pay scale. We also reduced the budget line for custodial supplies by $8,000. We did that because we were able to purchase supplies normally used for summer cleaning since the custodians have already been doing what is basically the summer cleaning.”

The next thing to get docked, according to Rice, was $10,000 for next year’s bus fuel. The reason for this? The tanks are already full, which Rice has stated is not something they’re normally able to do, but revenue this year allowed them to do so. Furthermore, with the restrictions on athletics, field trips, and the like, it’s anticipated that there will be a lot less fuel consumed in the upcoming school year, and that there will be less money spent on extracurricular activities, particularly in the fall as well.

“Hopefully these are the latest and last revisions until we get any further updates on revenue,” she concluded.

Chairman Ralph Fallin chimed in afterwards, stating “I wish we had better news.”

It remains to be seen how any recovery will affect the budget plans, if at all.