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MARION CENTER: Preliminary school budget shows no tax increase

by RANDY WELLS rwells@indianagazette.net on May 21, 2013 10:50 AM

MARION CENTER — Taxes in the Marion Center Area School District, at least for now, will remain the same to support a tentative 2013-14 general operating budget.

The school directors Monday gave approval to a tentative budget of $22,255,614, up from $21,934,792 in the current spending plan.

A major expenditure next year will be the district’s $478,716 contribution to the Public School Employees’ Retirement System, as the district’s contribution rate to PSERS rises from 12.36 percent to 16.93 percent.

Taxes to support the tentative budget will remain the same: 102.48 mills on real estate; a wage tax of 0.85 percent; and a real estate transfer tax of 0.50 percent.

Final tax rates and a final budget will be adopted at June’s meeting.

The board also approved a homestead and farmstead exclusion resolution that will allow the district to use its share of gambling tax revenue from the state, nearly $599,000, to provide real estate tax reductions. District business manager Rick Martini said the owners of 2,868 approved homesteads and farmsteads in the school district will receive reductions of $210.29.

The directors heard a presentation on new English/language arts textbooks and consumables under consideration for purchase for several grades before the next school year.

Charles Adamchik, the director of curriculum, instruction and assessment, said a committee of teachers evaluated textbooks following presentations from textbook publishers.

“The textbook itself is not the curriculum. It’s a resource. The teacher is the most important component,” Adamchik said.

“The curriculum drives the book selection,” added district superintendent Dr. Frank Garritano.

Some of the texts to be replaced have been in use in the district since 1998 and 2002.

The new textbooks may cost about $250,000, and action on a purchase is expected at June’s meeting.

There was more discussion Monday, too, on a proposed world language program that would allow students to begin learning a foreign language sooner than their freshman year.

Garritano said one “do-able and workable” plan would be to offer instruction in French or Spanish on a voluntary basis after school two afternoons each week to students in fourth, fifth and sixth grades, and to students in seventh and eighth grades four afternoons each week, starting in the fall.

In the 2014-15 school year, the program might be expanded to offer a foreign language as an elective during the school day to seventh- and eighth-grade students.

More discussion on the foreign language program is also expected at June’s meeting.

High school principal Matthew Jioio said he plans to present in June more details on a proposal to restructure the district’s cheerleading program.

Cheerleading, he said, has become a year-long activity spread across several sport seasons. The time requirement can become a burden and participation has dropped. About 10 students are now involved in cheerleading and some also participate in “competitive spirit” competitions sanctioned by the Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association.

Jioio’s proposal is to create a separate squad of students who want to compete in competitive spirit events and one that will still lead cheers at the district’s sports events.

Separating the two disciplines will allow students to “decide which path they want to follow,” require less of their time and may increase participation in cheerleading, Jioio said.

The board also approved an agreement to accept equipment, mainly for insurance purposes, from the new History Buff Bikers Club.

Paul DeHaven, a high school health and physical education teacher, told the directors that in a collaboration between history and physical education departments, the club’s faculty advisors plan to take students for bicycling tours of historically-significant sites, like the Gettysburg Civil War battlefield.

The club has purchased 20 bicycles and a trailer to haul them with a grant from the W.A. McCreery Trust Fund. McCreery, a former high school principal and chief school administrator of the district who died in 2008, entrusted funds to the Marion Center Area Education Association to be used to enhance the education of students.

The club trips initially will be open to juniors and seniors.

The directors hired Katie Enterline as an elementary/ESL (English as a second language) teacher at a salary of $42,871.

Director Lori Marshall said the district has only one student who needs ESL services, and Marshall contended a reading specialist would be a more valuable addition to the faculty to help students, especially at Rayne Elementary School, where, she said, some students are struggling with reading.

“Enterline is qualified and experienced,” Garritano said. “This is the best staffing model at this time.”

In other action the directors:

  • Agreed to have Dr. William Zewe provide dental exams to students in three grades at a district cost of $5 for each exam. Students may opt to instead furnish proof of an exam from their own dentist.
  • Were informed by Garritano that the district’s administrators and staff again this summer will work four 10-hour days each week. District personnel will be available at the district’s offices and buildings from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. Mondays through Thursdays.
  • Appointed director Ronald Oswald as the board’s treasurer for a one-year term.
  • Hired the following athletic coaches:

Matt Reed as the head coach for boys’ basketball at a salary of $4,750.

Chris Stewart as the head coach for wrestling at a salary of $4,650.

Meggan George as the head coach for swimming at a salary of $4,650.

Janice Brocious as the head coach for girls’ basketball at a salary of $5,535.

Candy Hadden as the head cheerleading coach at a salary of $3,500.

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