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Pleasant Vy. School District residents still speaking out about higher taxes

Published September 21. 2010 05:00PM

Some residents voiced their ire of the increase in their taxes to the Pleasant Valley School District's board of directors.

Nora Almadovar of Whispering Woods said that if the district was going to spend money, be accountable.

"I understand politics and money but you also have to think of us, the taxpayers."

George Schreiber of Brodheadsville told the board that he is a resident of Pennsylvania for five years.

"I did a little research. The state has contributed to the budget for the last 10 years. You received Obama's stimulus. You have 400 less students and one school that closed. You just went to private transportation that was supposed to save us money. And this is your highest tax year yet. I don't know if you people understand what's going on. What are you going to do when these homes are empty?" he asked.

Susan Kresge, PVSD board president said, "You touched on a lot of issues. Could you stay after the meeting or set up an appointment to meet with Dr. Arnold?" to which Schreiber replied yes.

He added, "I heard a rumor that there will be a 5-6 percent increase in next year's budget."

"We haven't even looked at next year's budget," said Kresge.

"Where is our money going?" Schreiber asked.

Dr. Douglas Arnold, PVSD superintendent told him he would gladly talk to him after the meeting.

Gary Kiefer of Kresgeville told the board that he worked in construction for 40 years.

"When times got bad, we had our pay cut back. We paid our own pension, our own health. Why can't these teachers take a pay cut? I'm here 14 years and our taxes have gone up every year," said Kiefer.

Dr. Arnold responded that teachers do pay part of their health care.

Hector Almadovar of Whispering Woods said he moved here nine years ago and was on disability.

"When you say you would like to meet with us, it would be good not to get manipulative answers. I know we're a small group tonight but the little people have to speak up," he said.

Dr. Arnold assured him that when he would speak to them after the meeting, he would not give manipulative answers.

Kresge addressed the audience by saying, "We begin our budget process early. We start the tooth and nail of it in April and give a public presentation in May. We have a lot of your questions answered in that presentation. I would recommend to everyone in the district to come to the school board meetings in April and May.

"The nine of us on this board live in this district. Our taxes go up like yours. I've been on this board for 13 years. I watch the budget very carefully. We would not raise taxes is we didn't have to," she said.

Luis Igartua said he has lived in Whispering Woods for eight years and wonders why his taxes continue to go up, this year by $377.

"I ask, what have they done for me?"

He said he hears people complaining about the taxes going up and up and people live here for about seven years and then they have to move out.

Chris Fisher, assistant to the superintendent for professional and support services reported that a new document has been created for the principals of each school to record the day's enrollment, providing a very accurate count. The first enrollment report to the state is due Oct. 1.

Dr. Arnold said it looks like the district is down about 200 students from last year. He also said that the opening days of the new school year were "Hot" alluding to the very warm temperatures the last days in August.

"But all the administrators agreed this year may have been the smoothest opening in years. There were some transportation issues the first few days. And with the dress code, the vast majority of the students dressed appropriately. There was one issue with shoes but we worked with the parents to get everyone in compliance."

Dr. Arnold said that he received an email from John DeVivo, band director. He reported that there were 169 students in the four week summer band program and has received an unusual large amount of positive feedback from parents and even though the district's enrollment is declining, the band numbers seem to be increasing.

The district received a $4,830 grant for the OTDA (Organ Tissue Donor Awareness) project and Dr. Arnold thanked Chris Fisher and Chris Meckes for their efforts to receive it.

$14,773.93 in grant money was received for the PVE Active School's program.

An email was received from Ms. Larthey to Board Vice President MiChelle Palmer thanking Ms. Palmer for her efforts in obtaining $600 for the purchase of books for the PVMS Bear Bucks program.

Carole Geary, assistant superintendent of curriculum gave a power point presentation to the board in regards to the Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) Report which is based on three targets: Attendance or graduation rate; participation rate on PSSA; performance on PSSA in math and reading.

"We've had great improvement in our performance in Math and Reading. In 2010, out of 125 targets, we've met 124 of the Pennsylvania System of School Assessment (PSSA) Assessments AYP," Geary said.

The district has earned AYP for the last seven years. PVHS is the only school in the district not earning an AYP this year due to one subcategory.

"We're very optimistic that next year we'll be 125 out of 125 in every building," said Geary.

Kresge asked Ms. Geary to please pass on the board's congratulations to all those involved in gaining such a great report.

Anthony Candela and Mercedes Samson were hired from casual to part-time security officers, effective Aug. 30, 2010.

Talitha Graham has been hired as a temporary PVHS paraprofessional associate, at $20,030, prorated.

Debra Connors, monitor, has been transferred from PVE to PVMS.

Jay Ohland was hired as a substitute paraprofessional associate.

Tenure has been granted to the following for having served PVSD for three years: Barbara Arroyo; Amy Boligitz; Jenne Boyle; Michele Confer; Jennifer Haberman; Ashley Hoffman; Elise Hunter; Heather Kleinle; Jillian Michaels, Bron Leupold; Keri Ramsay; Bradley Rogers; Janel Semmel; James Shoopack; Amanda Strish; Danielle Unger; James Ward; Jenna Wernett; Diana Wojtkowski.

The board accepted the resignation of Samantha Clay, Polk part-time paraprofessional, effective Aug. 23, 2010 and Tammie Pomposello, PVE part-time paraprofessional associate, effective Aug. 20, 2010.

The board accepted the retirement of Catherine Giannakis, PVE paraprofessional associate, effective Aug. 26, 2010.

The board approved:

*Meghan Sobieski as Jr. High girls' basketball assistant coach;

*2010-2011 supplemental/co-curricular adviser positions: Michele Witowski, Diversity Club PVHS; Christine Castone, Mock Trial PVHS; Shannon Mackes, Science Olympiad PVHS; Justine Curcio, World Language Club PVHS.

In business management, the board approved:

*a contract with Colonial Intermediate Unit 20 to transport a Western PA School for the Deaf student to Camp Hill at a cost of $36,000, prorated.

*a contract with CSI for Security Systems Expansion, which includes Surveillance System and Access Control System Expansion at a cost of $246,211, to be paid from the 2006 Bond Fund.

*a contract with Maxim Healthcare Services, Inc. to provide nursing services for student, retroactive to Aug. 26, 2010. Effective for one calendar year and will automatically renew at the end of the first year and each subsequent year unless terminated, at a cost of $42 per hour, not to exceed eight hours a day.

*the First Student estimated September 2010 invoice be paid in advance to afford PVSD the opportunity to take advantage of a 1.5 percent discount. The September billing is estimated to be $562,149.55. After deducting the August and September rent, as per agreement, in the amount of $20,369.28 and after deducting Route #26 in the amount of $4,599.01, the net billing will be $537,181.26. The 1.5 percent discount is $8,057.72. The net payment of $529,123.54 must be received by First Student on or before Sept. 24, 2010.

*the payment of $85,592.04 from the 2006 Bond Fund to Key Government Finance, Inc. for $79,642.04 and Russo Concrete LLC for $5,950.

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