Palmerton Area School District should have enough funds available to hire another special education teacher at one of its elementary schools.

Bob Dailey, director of special education, informed members of the school board's Budget and Finance Committee on Wednesday that he has $63,320 reserved to hire a new special ed teacher at Towamensing Elementary.

Dailey said he had the amount in reserve from the 2009-10 budget, which he said the district could use for that purpose.

Four teachers are set to retire from S.S. Palmer Elementary at the end of this school year, three of which the district won't replace.

Superintendent Carol Boyce said she was pleased to hear the news shared by Dailey.

"Now we can continue to save all three over there [at S.S. Palmer]," Boyce said. "Plus there's the savings that we should accrue over retirements, and there will continue to be a net savings for the next several years."

Debra Demyanovich, director of human resources, presented a budget of $10,500.

Committee member Carl Bieling said he viewed that as a $10,000 increase, since there was no such department in the past.

"I want accountability for what's going on and where it's going," Bieling said.

Committee member Barry Scherer told Bieling it was hard to estimate costs for the new department.

"This is a best guest budget," Scherer said. "We never had a human resources budget before."

However, Bieling said he didn't want a "best guest" budget.

Demyanovich explained that she plans to put her best effort forward.

"I'm just starting a new office, a new position," Demyanovich said. "I was just trying to establish something that went well."

Under districtwide items, business manager Lisa Vignone noted several more costly items.

Vignone said the district will see a substantial increase in its cost for charter/cyber schools, $420,000, up from the $180,000 in 2009-10.

Also, Vignone said the cost for professional services for special education at the CLIU will cost $1,475,000, up from $1,250,000 in 09-10.

Finally, Vignone said the cost of transportation to the CLIU will also increase to $430,000.

The committee's next meeting is scheduled for 1 p.m. April 13. At that time, it plans to discuss salary and benefits, as well as grants and revenues.

Previously, the committee met with each of its building principals, as well as its technology, special education, and curriculum and instruction directors.

While no actual budget figure has yet to be agreed to, committee members have acknowledged that a tax increase is anticipated.

The board expects to adopt a preliminary budget in May, with final adoption to occur in June.

Last year, the district adopted a budget for the 2009-10 school year that called for a 2.44 percent, or 1 mill, increase.

The $25,488,593 spending plan raised the millage rate from 41 to 42 mills. That meant a person who owned a $100,000 home, which was assessed at $50,000, paid $2,100, or $50 more, to the district in property taxes.

Prior to that, the last time the district raised property taxes was in the 2007-08 school year, when it passed a budget with a 2.5 percent increase.