The Pleasant Valley School board voted 9-0 to approve adopting the 2014-2015 preliminary budget at $99,687,702 with a millage rate of 153.6810. This represents a 7.665 mill increase or 5.25 percent from the 2013-2014 budget, which is $7,176,265 more than the 2013-2014 final budget. There was no tax increase for property owners in the 2013-2014 budget, which remained at 146.016 mills.
The 2014-2015 preliminary figures means a home with an average assessed value of $20,825 would have a tax bill of $3,202, which is an increase of $160 from 2013-2014. This millage increase represents the Act 1 index of 2.9 percent plus exceptions for special education and retirement.
"This is just the first step to keep us in compliance with ACT I. We have a lot of work to do," said PVSD business manager, Susan Famularo. The millage may be reduced from this preliminary budget rate but cannot be increased.
This budget includes the use of fund balance, or reserves, in the amount of $7.2 million. The largest unknown revenue item is state funding and this draft of the budget shows level state funding. Governor Corbett will release his proposed state budget in February.
Carole Geary, PVSD superintendent, said they will be working diligently to bring that number down by the time the budget must be approved, no later than June 30, 2014.
The budget is available to view at the administration office or online on the school's website at www.pvbears.org.
At the last meeting, it was noted that the schools have difficulty supplying substitute teachers when needed and have to pull teacher specialists from their classes to fill in where there is a need. Pay rates for substitutes were discussed. It was noted that PV pays $80 a day for a substitute and was compared to other schools within the Colonial Intermediate Unit 20, with Pocono Mountain district paying as much as $100 a day. The subject was tabled until further discussion.
At the Jan. 23 meeting, board President Russ Gould asked Geary and the other district administrators and principals if this has been a problem before now.
PVE principal Joshua Krebs said that it has been a problem for the last three years. They have been pulling teachers in remedial positions to fulfill substitute teacher duties.
Erica Greer, Polk Elementary principal, added that they are even short on support staff such as paraprofessional assistants.
Board director Len Peeters said he thought the district should up the daily rate to $100 to see if it makes a difference.
Greer thought it would because she has had substitutes who were already booked to work at Polk cancel when they received a call from another school that paid a higher rate and took that job for the day.
Director Linda Micklos had looked at several other districts in the state and determined the average pay for substitute teachers is $82 a day. She wondered if Aesop could be the problem. (The Aesop system is how the district logs its attendance. The system allows district's staff to designate favorite subs. The subs log in and can grab open jobs of teachers who have posted a day out.)
Geary said she had talked to someone in the Pennsylvania government who said he heard that many teachers have moved out of the state to other states that are hiring and Pennsylvania is losing its teacher pool to pull substitutes.
The board will continue looking into the issue.
Patrick McGinley, a representative for ExxonMobil and Sunny Patel, owner of Sunny's Express Mart in Kresgeville, presented a check for $500 for the Positive program at the school.
The money was from an ExxonMobil grant.
The board approved the following hirings:
*Charissa Derr, substitute paraprofessional associate/secretary; Leticia Dipipi, long term substitute reading specialist, PVI, for rest of 2013-2014 school year, $40,900 prorated; Kristen McCree, part-time paraprofessional associate/substitute paraprofessional associate, PVMS replacement position effective Jan. 24, $20331, prorated; Jason Smith, long-term substitute 5th grade teacher, PVI, rest of 3013-2014, $40,900 prorated; Nancy Gehr, part-time paraprofessional associate/substitute paraprofessional associate/ substitute teacher, PVI replacement as of Feb. 3, $20,331 prorated; MiChelle Palmer, monitor/substitute monitor/substitute custodian, PVE replacement effective Jan. 27; Christal Smith, part-time paraprofessional associate/substitute paraprofessional associate/substitute teacher, PVI replacement effective Jan. 27, $20,331 prorated; Katie Monahan, long-term substitute 1st grade teacher, Polk Elementary for Christie Borger's assignment, effective Jan. 29, $40,900 prorated.