Posted by on May 16, 2020 10:56 am

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Categories: Coal Region Newswire Local News

Public school districts in Schuylkill County are going to feel the pain of the coronavirus pandemic response where it hurts the most later this year.

empty wallet

According to a report published by the Pennsylvania Association of School Business Officials, districts in Schuylkill County can expect to lose up to $10 million in revenue combined for the 2020-2021 school term.

Some school districts won’t lose as much as others but the longer these state government-imposed “lockdowns” persist, the more money districts can expect to lose. And losses predicted are all relative.

“In an economic downturn we know that unemployment goes up, thereby reducing our local income tax revenue, and we know that the real estate market will be affected resulting in a reduction of our real estate transfer tax,” Timothy Shrome, PASBO research director, says. “We also know that our taxpayers will need more time to pay, thus reducing property tax revenues, and with the significant cuts in the rates, interest earnings will take a hit as well.”

How Much Money Will Schuylkill County Public Schools Lose Because of Coronavirus?

PASBO figured potential losses resulting from business closures, unemployment and the length of these economic downturns. It created two assumptions, one lighter on the doom-and-gloom than the other.

Here’s a look at a slide that presents the two scenarios and the statewide impact:

pasbo two scenarios coronavirus losses

(Image: PASBO.org)

In its report published recently, PASBO admits these are estimates based on past trends, including the 2008 Great Recession. So, the numbers below could be lower or the expected losses could possibly be more.

If the US and Pennsylvania experience a fast economic recovery once draconian lockdown measures are lifted, these figures could be less.

And if legislation passes that prohibits school districts from raising property taxes for the upcoming school year, expect a bigger impact. For example, Pottsville Area wants to raise property taxes on its residents and will likely take a vote on that measure in June.

PASBO’s assistant executive director Hannah Barrick says, “We believe that school districts will do everything they can to recognize the financial impact that COVID-19 has had on taxpayers, and property tax increases for next year will be considered only in those school districts with no other fiscally viable options.”

The estimates look at potential losses in the following revenue streams vital to public schools in Pennsylvania:

  • Property taxes
  • Earned Income Tax
  • Real Estate Transfer Tax
  • Delinquent taxes
  • Interims
  • Investment earnings

So, let’s take a look at the financial hit each school district expects to take because of the pandemic response from the state government.

Pottsville Area School District

Pottsville Area School District could lose as much as $1,240,656 in revenue for the next school term, PASBO estimates. That’s the current worst-case-scenario estimate. However, if the pandemic response ends sooner than expected, losses could be closer to $977,218.

That’s a lot of money for a district that barely has two nickels to rub together. And Pottsville’s currently considering cutbacks to teachers and programs district-wide. These expected losses likely will result in even more cutbacks in the future as the district struggles to recover that money.

Blue Mountain School District

The district expected to lose the most revenue because of the Chinese virus is Blue Mountain. PASBO estimates Blue Mountain’s losses could range from $1,477,571 in a best-case scenario to as much as $1,810,125 the longer the pandemic response persists.

That decision to demolish and build a new $25 million elementary school in Friedensburg just prior to schools closing early for the 2019-2020 term may end up coming back to really bite them.

Tamaqua Area School District

Another school that expects to lose more than a million bucks in revenue due to coronavirus is Tamaqua Area. The PASBO estimates suggest Tamaqua could take a hit between $1,131,194 and $1,432,009.

North Schuylkill School District

North Schuylkill School District is another one locally that’s looking at taking a $1 million hit from the coronavirus. According to the PASBO study, the largest school district in the northern part of the coal region can expect to lose between $933,879 and $1,184,491.

Pine Grove Area School District

PASBO says the Pine Grove Area School District could suffer close to a million dollars in losses from the economic inactivity and the state government’s pandemic response.

At Pine Grove, losses could range between $698,288 and $836,898.

Minersville Area School District

The Minersville Area School District’s losses from the coronavirus fallout likely will range between $561,143 and $723,318, PASBO estimates.

Schuylkill Haven Area School District

The Schuylkill Haven Area School District will also share the pain of the Chinese virus impact. PASBO estimates the district will see between $541,712 and $664,898 less next school term.

Williams Valley School District

Williams Valley isn’t immune from the impact of coronavirus either. The school that straddles the Schuylkill-Dauphin county line can expect to see a budget hit of between $403,691 and $495,197 next term.

Mahanoy Area School District

At Mahanoy Area School District, the coronavirus will have an impact on the bottom line, too. The PASBO estimates suggest that school will lose between $354,082 and $437,984 in the 2020-2021 term.

Saint Clair Area School District

Saint Clair Area may have just offered a temporary lifeline for some Pottsville Area sports programs that were about to get cut. But they may want to consider hanging on to that money in the future if PASBO’s estimates are accurate.

This report suggests Saint Clair Area will lose between $351,204 and $420,812 because of the coronavirus response.

Shenandoah Valley School District

For Shenandoah Valley School District, the impact will surely be felt next year. School directors there will have to figure out how to budget with between $315,748 and $392,267 less in the near future.

Tri-Valley School District

And at Tri-Valley School District, the losses from coronavirus should amount to between $309,254 and $380,186 next school year.

Even though these schools are listed, primarily in order by amount of money lost due to the coronavirus pandemic response from the state and local governments, all figures are relative.

The approximately $400,000 loss expected at Shenandoah Valley will hurt just as much as the more than $1 million loss expected at Pottsville Area, for example.

This PDF below shows how PASBO arrived at the numbers above:

PASBO Local Revenue Projection Methodology

Read the full report from PASBO here.

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3 responses to How Much Money Will Schuylkill County Public Schools Lose Because of Coronavirus?

  1. Ken May 23rd, 2020 at 8:38 am

    Not sure I’m buying that property tax projection, property taxes always must be paid, they will receive that money one way or another. Also why doesn’t the article include the money the districts are saving in transportation cost, fuel, wages for drivers, etc. This article only shows the schools crying for money again. Not buying this.

    Reply

    • admin May 23rd, 2020 at 9:19 am

      This article only presents what PASBO projects in losses for districts in Schuylkill County. In addition to these projected losses, there are also losses in cafeteria/food costs from the school deciding to feed students at no charge since the beginning of the pandemic response. In Pottsville, the transportation director doesn’t know how to fill out paperwork properly so she basically costs the district even more money. That was in the state Auditor General’s report.

      Reply

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