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Schools submit budget requests

Published April 02. 2010 05:00PM

The cafeteria at Tamaqua Area High School could use a new convection oven, steam units and a refrigerator.

Tamaqua baseball, softball and soccer fans would appreciate another set of bleachers in order to watch games.

The security on each of the school district's buildings could use an upgrade.

The gym floors could use some renovations. The high school faculty could add another math teacher. The district office needs a new copier.

Those are some the decisions facing the Tamaqua Area School Board as it examines the district's needs while preparing a budget for the 2010-2011 fiscal year, beginning July 1.

The board held a budget workshop Wednesday evening, with business manager Connie Ligenza presenting a proposed $27.4 million spending plan for 2010-11.

In its preliminary stages, the budget calls for a 1.25 mill increase in real estate tax, which would increase the district's millage rate from the current 32.11 to 33.36. One mill generates approximately $269,454 for the district.

The district is in the process of negotiating new contracts with its professional teaching staff as well as its service personnel, with both agreements set to expire this year, said board President Larry A. Wittig.

Part of the annual budget process is the presentation of the "Board Approved List," essentially a wish list of items each administrator and principal feels are needed but that are outside their regular site budgets. The board will have to decide if they wish to incorporate any of these items into the budget for next year.

During the budget workshop, items on the Board Approved List totaled $573,322.

Ligenza's list included a new copier for the central office, at a cost of about $10,000. She is also seeking quotes on new financial and new human resources software, since the current software in use in being phased out by Wiedenhammer.

Technology director Kenny Dunkelberger would like to see a phase-in program to hook up 50 classrooms in the middle school to the fiber-optic cable system, a 3-5 year process that could cost around $120,000.

Dunkelberger also recommended an anti-virus system upgrade for the district, at a cost of $6,500; upgrading the parent and faculty alert system for recording attendance, at $6,000; bringing wireless technology to the district offices, at $2,000; an automated system, Docu-Class, to cut down on the district's file space, especially for student transcripts, at $8,500; and overall districtwide security upgrades, at an estimated $30,500.

Kristen Melnick, the district's food services director, noted that most of the kitchen equipment in the high school dates back to 1968, when the school first opened, and is in need of upgrades.

Items on Melnick's list included two steam kettles and steam units ($16,626), a pass through refrigerator ($2,450) and convection oven ($6,025), all for the high school, as well as a major repair to the middle school garbage disposal ($2,500), a dish machine for Tamaqua Elementary ($18,000) and a convection oven for West Penn Elementary ($6,025).

Gregory Koons, the district's special education director, would like to see a high school department head for special education ($450), as well as adding a speech therapist, which the district could do at a reduced cost to the Schuylkill Intermediate Unit 29's contract.

Director of Athletics Mike Hromyak mentioned a number of areas the board could examine, including a new sound system for the stadium ($10,000), three new touch pads for the scoring system in the high school natatorium ($2,550), handicapped bleachers for the home stands of the stadium ($36,000), as well as the portable bleachers for the athletic fields ($4,199).

Facilities manager Arthur Oakes, Jr. noted that the gym floors in the Tamaqua Area Athletic Center and high school could be upgraded with an oil-based finish, something that the district should expect to do every 10 years in the interest of maintenance. That could cost between $12,500 and $15,000 per floor.

Elementary Principal Steven Behr's list requested cafeteria monitors and paraprofessionals in each of the three schools at a cost of $10,500 and $18,900, respectively, as well as new library books (totaling $5,000 per site).

Christopher Czapla, middle school principal, listed an eighth-grade class adviser ($347), a Smart Table ($8,000), a part-time library aide ($6,300) and four "thin client" computer labs ($54,000).

As for the high school, Principal RuthAnn Gardiner is also requesting thin client technology for the library ($18,200) and cafeteria ($10,250), a laptop cart for math instruction ($26,000), and an additional math teacher ($60,000).

The middle and high schools are also going through the Middle States Accreditation process, and the principals requested $5,000 per school.

In addition to the board approved items, Oakes also prepared a list of potential capital projects per building as other areas the district should examine at some point, if not this year. That list totaled $2,615,800.

The board will face its share of decisions as it moves toward finalizing the budget before the June 30 deadline.

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