Proposed budget calls for tax hike
The Panther Valley School District's proposed budget for the 2010-2011 school year currently includes a 4.18 mill increase for Carbon County and a 2.6 mill increase for Schuylkill County.
Although directors voted to approve the preliminary budget last night, with expenditures totaling $23,629,106 and proposed revenues of $23,252,711, several directors, including Mickey Angst, Irene Genther, and Koreen Nalesnik did not support the motion.
Angst, in particular, expressed hopes that the increase can be eliminated before the final budget is approved later this year.
"We're well on our way to doing that," he said.
After the meeting, business manager Kenneth Marx, Jr. explained that the two biggest jumps in the 2010-11 budget are a 21 percent in the district's contribution, bringing it to $128,061.34, to the retirement fund and a 30 percent increase, bringing it to $513,937.50 in the district's debt service.
Marx indicated that the debt service is related to the new middle school construction. The district will also see a 5 percent increase in salaries, a 7 percent increase in health insurance, and a 21 percent increase in charter school tuition.
Later in the meeting, the board also approved the new high school course selection book for the 2010-2011 school year.
Director David Hiles questioned some of the offerings and asked if some classes couldn't be combined to help cut back on the budget.
"I'm not saying staff cuts, but a situation where we have lyrical poetry and poetry, couldn't we combine that," he asked.
Hiles also questioned the content of several other course offerings, such as an English elective, Sitcom as Satire, Great Infoquest, and Ceramics.
"The explanation of this is that it has them watching the Simpsons," he said, of the Sitcom as Satire class. "Infoquest is a class about how to get information, but we have a course called Internet I, which is the best way to get information. Why can't they be combined," he asked. "Can't we draw these things together," he said, "It might work for us with the budget.
Superintendent Rosemary Porembo added that the district has increased their credit requirement for graduation from 24.5 to 25.
"We made economics a required course," she said.
She further explained, "When you see a lot of these courses, they were added on because when we did away with consumer science, about 10 courses sent out of the high school. We have too many study halls. We're trying to design a schedule that will take study halls out of students' schedules."
After the meeting, Porembo also said that working on the new course selections has been one of the projects that the district gave to interim high school principal Dr. Robert Mauro. She explained that current eighth grade students and their parents will meet with teachers to schedule their ninth grade classes. The current high school students will begin working on their schedules in April.
In other business, the board also approved the CLIU operating budget as presented, the CCTI budget as presented, and the LCCC budget as presented. The board also approved the filing of the qualified school construction bond program application, for $3,242,501, for the energy savings project. The board also approved the bond issue parameters as presented by bond counsel, Rhoads & Sinon, LLP. Marx noted that the second resolution was passed in case the first resolution fell through.
The board also heard a presentation from Damon Kane, one of the chief architects for the CCTI building project. Kane updated the board on the status of the project. He also advised the board that the project is currently about $2 million under the proposed $21 million budget.
Porembo also announced the donation of 50 computers to the district by LCCC. The new computers will be used to replace outdated ones within the district.
Kenneth Eck was added as a substitute teacher for the 2009-2010 school year. The board approved a tentative bus stop schedule for the 2010-2011 school year. According to Porembo, there are no major changes in the schedule. The board approved the creation of an elementary grade 5 position for the 2010-2011 school year. This is due to an increase in enrollment. Diane Buchman was approved as the 100 book challenge coordinator, at a prorated salary of $750.