MARION CENTER: Proposed budget projects deficit
February 18, 2014 10:50 AM
by RANDY WELLS

MARION CENTER — The Marion Center Area School District directors on Monday approved a preliminary 2014-15 general fund budget that for now has a shortfall of more than $139,000, equivalent to 2.59 mills of real estate tax.

But district business manager Richard Martini said he is optimistic the directors will be able to “chip away” at the shortfall before a final budget is due at the end of June.

A 2.59 mill tax increase would add roughly $32 to the tax bill of an average property owner in the district.

The preliminary budget for next year lists anticipated expenditures of $23,399,987 and expected funding of $23,260,960.

Martini told the school directors that Gov. Tom Corbett’s budget includes $241 million in new Ready to Learn block grant funding for public schools that focus on student achievement and academic success, and funding for the Accountability Block Grant that supports pre-kindergarten, full-day kindergarten and other proven educational programs at the current level of $100 million. But not all the details on how the money will be distributed have been released, Martini said.

Also, the district’s contribution rate to the Public School Employee’s Retirement System is scheduled to increase from 16.9 percent this year to 21.4 percent next year, but there is a possibility that rate may be lowered by the Corbett administration.

The budget is expected to be refined through May as more information is received on the state budget.

Amy Gaston, supervisor of special education, and several of the district’s special education teachers made a presentation to the school board on the district’s proposed three-year plan for special education. The plan details how the district will follow state and federal guidelines in educating the district’s approximately 240 students who need special education services, in and outside the school setting.

The plan also details professional development steps for the 17 special education teachers during the next three years.

The directors will have a chance to ask questions about the plan at Monday’s voting session, and then the plan will be put on the district’s website and will be available for public review for at least 30 days before the school board takes final action on the plan.

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