The Lower Merion School District had $43 million in reserve funds last year—the fourth highest reserve in the state, which on June 30 of last year had $3.2 billion total reserve funds in school districts, according to an article in the Pennsylvania Independent.
Districts with more in reserve funds are Pittsburgh ($148 million), Downingtown ($50 million) and Abington ($45 million).
Gov. Tom Corbett's administration is encouraging districts with large reserve funds "to dip into those accounts to cover operating expenses in a year when state education funding is increasing, but not as much as districts would like," according to the Pennsylvania Independent.
"About 70 percent of the state's 500 districts are tapping into their reserve funds in their preliminary budgets, according to a survey by the Pennsylvania Association of School Business Officers, a professional association that helps provide products and services for school business management," states the Pennsylvania Independent.
Lower Merion's general fund, as of June 30 of last year, included $23.5 million in committed funds and $19.9 million in unassigned funds, according to the district's 2012-13 budget booklet. Committed funds can be used only for specific purposes determined by a formal action by the Board of Directors, while unassigned funds are available for any purpose, according to the booklet.
That amounts to about $5,871 in school taxes for a $250,000 household in 2012-13, a $114 increase from this school year.
The district's Board of Directors is expected to finalize the proposed 2012-13 budget, including reserve balances, at its June 11 meeting.