An independent auditor's report for the Tamaqua Area School District's 2008-09 fiscal year has reflected favorably on the district.

Connie Ligenza, the district's business manager, summarized the results of the audit, for the fiscal year ending June 30, 2009, on Tuesday evening for the school board's finance committee.

Ligenza said the audit's unqualified opinion found no findings against the district. "That's good news," she said.

Regarding the district's revenues for the 2008-09 school year, the district had projected a budget of $24,476,175 but actually realized $25,053,125, a positive variance of $576,950.

Ligenza said the additional revenue was driven from local sources, particularly real estate tax collections, which exceeded the district's projections.

Expenditure-wise, the district budgeted for $25,337,569 but actually spent $24,289,061, good for a postive variance of $1.048,508.

Ligenza explained the district saved $79,126 on its instructional budget, particularly in the area of special education. Support services also used $370,684 less than projected, particularly regarding transportation costs, which were reduced by $241,000 by redoing some of the district's bus routes.

Ligenza suggested the district isn't underspending on transportation. "I believe the kids are being safely transported," she said.

The district's fund balance also benefited from the savings, increasing by $764,064. Ligenza proposed the district reserve that revenue for its retirement fund.

Even the district's food services had a good year. While operating expenses exceeded revenue by $360,032, revenue from the free and reduced lunch program came in at $380,729, resulting in a profit of $20,697.

School Board President Larry A. Wittig noted that the food service profit was "fragile", but Ligenza said the district has been proactive in that area, raising school lunch prices, adding a point of sale system, and with Food Services Director Kristen Melnick replacing retirees with less hours when applicable.

Ligenza also provided her monthly budget control. So far this school year, the district has spent $15.5 million, or 40 percent of its budget, compared to $15.1 million and 41.5 percent a year ago. Revenues collected are at $18.3 million compared to $19.2 million last year, but Ligenza noted the difference was due to the timing of the district's state subsidy postings.

Second grade book

James J. Fasnacht, assistant elementary principal, told the board that the second grade class of Vanessa Boyle at West Penn Elementary School has published its own book about land formations.

The project started when students began lining boxes with types of land formations, then made up stories about them. The stories were collected together for a book, which was then published and copywrited in the students' names. The book jacket has a photo of the students as well.

RuthAnn Gardiner, high school principal, requested that the board look into adding two one-credit Geometry courses, one of them an Honors course that wouldn't be offered for next year but would go into the school's bank of courses.

The school has not had geometry because of its use of the Saxon Math series, which Wittig noted is being phased out.

Gardiner also proposed adding a Cooperative Education class for one-half credit. Such a class would be taken by seniors who have completed the majority of classwork needed for graduation and would have the opportunity to pursue a position in a line of work in their career.

"It would give them a chance to get a jump start on their careers," she said.

The board will consider the course additions at its monthly meeting, scheduled for next Tuesday.

Pole vault platform

The board will also at that time consider several purchases, which were approved in committee.

Among them is an aluminum platform for the stadium's pole vault pit landing pads, which would be purchased from Sportsmans, Johnstown, at a cost not to exceed $4,880.

A Destiny Resource Management Solution from Follett Software would cost $23,266.84 and be purchased through PAPact. The software will allow the district's library system to reconcile its holdings. Elementary Principal Steven Behr said it will allow for computers to be added to the elementary library as well as for the use of the Accelerated Reader program at that level.

The district is also considering purchase of an ID system from IDville at a cost of $4,620, with funding through PAPact.

Three agreements with Schuylkill Intermediate Unit 29 for support services were approved by the finance committee. They include emotional support service, for a tentative amount of $26,753; multi-handicapped support, for $6,541.44; and life skills aide support, ar $13,913.13.

Powell, Rodgers and Speaks, Harrisburg, is expected to be reappointed as the district's delinquent Assessed Occupation and Per Capita tax collector.