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Don't scold school districts that are trying to be fiscally responsible

Myriad increased costs, including for pensions and health care, make districts plan as best as they can with their budgets

JOHN BAER'S opinion piece on school fund balances leaves out some critical details. He criticizes the $4.4 billion in reserve for fiscal year 2015-16. However, he fails to mention reasons why districts need reserves in place.

For example, district pension costs have increased 337 percent since 2010-11, rising from $521 million in 2015-16 to $2.8 billion, and will remain at these levels for more than a decade. Also on the rise are health-care and special-education costs. A new legislative proposal to limit a district's right to appeal property assessments also could reduce school revenue by an estimated $677 million a year.

Industry experts recommend organizations keep from 5 to 10 percent of their overall expenses in an unassigned fund balance. On average, districts are well within that recommendation and even on the low end at about 6.5 percent.

Even though the overall fund balance dollars have increased, Baer fails to look at details. The most recent numbers show that 227 districts, or 45 percent, saw a reduction or no change in their total fund balances, and 74, or 15 percent, decreased by more than $1 million. Thirty-four districts still have a zero or negative fund balance.

Like any good business, school districts plan and budget carefully. Districts realize the importance of their institutions to their communities, state and the students they educate. Anything less than careful financial planning to ensure their stability would be careless on their part. Districts should be applauded, not criticized for their conservative financial practices.

Nathan Mains, executive director,

Pennsylvania School Boards Association

Education under threat in Trump budget

Thanks to the Daily News for running the Los Angeles Times editorial, "Jeopardizing Education" (May 23). The article clearly describes the threat to public education included in President Trump's proposed budget.

Aside from the constitutional issues of state sovereignty and church/state separation that the budget would compromise, there is the larger question of privatizing public education for profit. Turning public assets like education into private businesses has long been the goal of entrepreneurs such as billionaire Education Secretary Betsy DeVos. Using public money to fund such projects as for-profit charters or private religious schools, while hiding behind the euphemism of "school choice," is a scam. Opposition to this proposed budget should be universal.

Gloria Endres


The people's choice

Christine Flowers wrote that Larry Krasner is bad for the city as district attorney. I don't like Krasner, either, but his landslide victory appears to be a mandate by the people.

I voted for Seth Williams, and imagine how I feel now, as I desperately wish he would resign to save grace for the office of district attorney.

I don't like Krasner, but deep changes need to be made in our criminal justice system, from top to bottom.

I pray that he's up to the challenge.

Willie J. Eiland Jr.