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Tamaqua receives estate money for scholarships

Published June 15. 2010 05:00PM

The Tamaqua Area School District has received an endowment to earmark toward student scholarships.

Last week the district's finance committee was notified the district is the recipient of $188,142 from the estate of Mary C. Wolfe for the purpose of establishing a student scholarship fund.

"The school district is a beneficiary of her estate," said business manager Connie Ligenza. "The executor of the estate will establish criteria for the scholarship."

While appreciative of the gift, board President Larry A. Wittig questioned how the district handles such large donations.

"I wouldn't want us as a board to get involved in the management of funds," he said.

Ligenza said the district has a trust fund established that has been used to administer via the school code other scholarship monies it has previously received. The fund has over $400,000 available, which is administered according to different criteria set by the various benefactors who made the donations.

The board will look to formally accept the Wolfe estate donation at its monthly meeting tonight.

Also on tonight's agenda will be the final adoption of the district's 2010-2011 budget. The $27.47 million spending plan includes a real estate tax increase of 1.25 mills, which would increase Tamaqua Area's millage rate to 33.36 mills if approved. That would mean residents would pay an additional $1.25 per every $1,000 of assessed property value.

The budget also includes two $5 per capita taxes, an assessed occupation tax of $225, earned income and real estate transfer taxes of one percent and a $5 EMS tax. EIT, real estate transfer and EMS taxes are shared with a resident's municipality.

Ligenza said the district's homestead/farmstead exclusion rate for 2010-11 will be $142, which will be passed along to residents through a discount on their property tax bills.

In other business, the board will look to accept a quote for the repair of the dual coil wall for the Tamaqua Elementary School gymnasium from Modernfold of Topton, Pa., in the amount of $9,999.

Facilities manager Arthur Oakes, Jr., explained the wall was previously put out for bid, but the low bid received was $23,000. The district rejected the bids and negotiated the repair price with Modernfold, the company that installed the wall.

The board will also consider approving a licensed program maintenance agreement with Weidenhammer, Inc., to support the district's financial software for the 2010-2011 fiscal year, as a total cost of $5,980. Ligenza noted there is no increase for this year, but the price is prorated pending purchase and implementation of the company's upgraded Alio System.

Ligenza also said the district's interscholastic and voluntary student accident insurance package with the Maskin Group should be renewed for the period of Aug. 1, 2010 through Aug. 1, 2011, at a cost of $13,455. That price represents no increase over the current premium.

The district also received a workers' compensation package through Seltzer Insurance for $174,924, which is at a $31,000 savings over the current school year.

"That's the second year in a row that our premium has come down," said Ligenza. "It's been a roller-coaster ride. We had some high claims at one point, but we've ridden out the bad years."

Also on the agenda is a 60-month copier lease with Xerox Corporation to acquire two copiers for the high school and one for the administrative office at a cost not to exceed $1,656 per month. Ligenza felt the final cost would be less than that number.

High school Principal RuthAnn Gardiner said the high school copier has high mileage, with over 4 million copies produced.

Because the district is using a state purchasing contract, Ligenza said that buying their own machines is not an option.

The district is also looking at an extension of its current electricity contact, negotiated for its consortium with Provident Energy, for an 18-month period to an including June 30, 2013 with Exelon Energy, at a price of $.0602 per kilowatt hour. That is a reduction of 5.5 percent over the current rate of $. 06747 per kilowatt hour.

The board will meet at 7:30 p.m. in the large group instruction room of the middle school.

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