By Rebecca Zemencik, Managing Editor
HEGINS – Although expenditures are down in the Tri-Valley School District, a one mill tax increase will still be necessary for a balanced budget for the 2016-17 school year.
The board voted 8-0, Wednesday, May 11, with Director Carrie Bowman absent. Expenditures are $13,681,075, a decrease of $446,165 from the 2015-16 school year.
“The most significant reductions of expenditures in this year’s budget are due to savings realized by the refinancing of existing debt, improved energy utilization, and not replacing two individuals retiring from the high school,” said Superintendent Dr. Mark Snyder.
The 1.000 mill increase equals $31.49 per property based on an average assessment of $31,490.
“The reason for the tax increase is to maintain the current educational opportunities that we provide for our students, in light of the budget cuts suffered by public education in Pennsylvania,” said Snyder. “The Governor and the Legislature need to work together to restore that funding, while addressing other cost-drivers including cyber-charter school tuition, pension obligations, and special education costs.”
The 2016-17 does require the district to use its estimated unreserved fund of $865,000 to balance the budget.
The following resolutions were also approved to support the budget:
• Real estate tax resolution (32.252)
• Per capita tax Sec. 679 ($5.00)
• Per capita Act NO. 511 Tax Resolution ($5.00)
• Occupation tax resolution ($230)
• Real estate transfer tax resolution (1%)
• Local service tax resolution ($10) (Previous Occupational Privilege Tax Resolution)
• Earned Income Tax Resolution (1/2 of 1%).
While on the topic of budgets, the Chartwells School Dining Services 2016-17 projected budget including price increases for the 2016-17 projected budget including price increases for 2016-17 school year for paid lunches and breakfast were approved at the April meeting. Dollar amounts were erroneously listed. The correct prices are as follows: elementary, $2.35; high school, $2.60 (both increased by .05 cents); adult lunch $3.70 (increased by .10 cents); breakfast elementary and secondary, $1.15 (no increase) and milk is .60 cents, a .05 cent increase.
Board Director Kenneth Smeltz was appointed to serve as treasurer of the board for another term.
In other business, prior to the regular board meeting, a committee of the whole board was held. During that meeting, David Miller and Scott Ballay, addressed the board on behalf of the Tri-Valley Youth Soccer Association. The association is requesting the district initiate a program to bring the soccer fields at Hegins-Hubley Elementary School back to the condition they were prior to the construction project.
According to Miller, the field has sunk near the installation of the geo-thermal wells and their is a weed and crab grass problem.
Ballay said he had a company come in and look at the field and offer suggestions and plans to restore it but action would need to be taken soon.
Snyder said the district will look into the situation and try to do something about it with the resources they have such as their custodial staff and the company the district uses for the maintenance of the football field and practice field at the high school.
During the regular meeting a concerned parent of a fourth grade student at Mahantongo Elementary School addressed the board during public comment. She asked that she and her son not be named in the newspaper.
Her son was one of a handful of students who were transferred from Hegins-Hubley to Mahantongo Elementary last year due to class sizes. She claims that since her son’s transfer his grades have plumetted and he is receiving D’s and F’s and has had to pull tickets for disciplinary reasons.
“This was not the case while my son was a studnet at Hegins-Hubley,” said the mother. “We never had these problems there. The whole situation has been counter-productive.”
According to the mother, parents received letters in the mail last summer telling them their child was going to be transferred to Mahantongo.
“The parents should have been asked if there were volunteers who wanted to be transferred instead of just selecting students themselves,” said the mother. “I was told I had no say in the matter. There was no parents’ meeting, until the parents went to Mr. Anderson, the elementary principal and Dr. Snyder and requested a meeting. This was only done because we as parents had concerns. At the time I went along with it, I didn’t fight it. He did fine last year. This year’s different. He comes home crying, his emotional health is a wreck and his grades have suffered. I want him moved back to Hegins-Hubley immediately.”
The board nor administration addressed the mother at the board meeting.
The next school board meeting will be held Wednesday, June 8, 7:30 p.m. in the high school auditorium. The board will review a five-year proposed transportation contract with Bowman Brothers Trucking Inc.
The district is requesting the new contract include a clause that all drivers must be CPR/first-aide certified. The contract will be voted on at the next meeting.