KENWOOD — The Penns Manor school board Thursday approved a preliminary budget for the 2020-21 school year that calls for a 3.9 percent tax increase.
In an online gathering, the board voted 6-3 to approve an $18,138,395 spending plan, for which the district anticipates $17,147,059 in revenues and plans to fall back on $991,336 from the district’s fund balance.
Those revenues will include real estate tax that will be increased by 3.9 percent, or the limit set in the state’s Act 1 index, from 14.176 mills to 14.729 mills.
Business Manager Joshua Muscatello said the increase translates to $42 on a $75,000 home.
School Director Ronald Larch voted no, along with directors Richard Polenik and Debora Tate, while board President Robert Packer, Vice President Ronald Beilchick and directors Dr. Paul Boston, Jill Eckenrode, John Hardesty Sr. and Wendy Williams voted yes.
As part of the budget-balancing process, Superintendent Daren Johnston said two teachers are retiring and will not be replaced.
The board Thursday also approved a four-year contract with its support personnel.
Larch was the lone dissenting vote as the board approved an agreement with the Penns Manor Education Support Professionals Association, from July 1 through June 30, 2024. Muscatello said the average annual salary increase will be 2.5 percent, with no change being made to benefits.
Larch also was the lone no vote on a series of technology-related motions, including a $36,704 contract for network switches and a $33,876 contract for wireless access points to EPLUS. In both cases e-rate discounts will be applied to the cost.
It also was an 8-1 vote on a $70,395 proposal to purchase 265 Chromebooks from Firefly Computers in a state Co-Stars contract. All the technical contracts are being covered by money out of the district capital reserve fund.
Additionally, Muscatello said, “the purchase of Chromebooks will allow our district to provide a device to all students in the district, providing a one-to-one device-to-student ratio.”
The Chromebooks will be added to others already available to more than 800 students in the district.
“It will allow us to provide in-school and at home opportunities,” Muscatello said.
In a related matter, the board approved submission of a Flexible Instruction Days application to the Pennsylvania Department of Education, which if approved would be used as an alternate approach to delivering instruction if a circumstance arises that prevents instruction in a customary manner.
If approved, the district could utilize up to five flexible instruction days throughout each of the next three school years, 2020-21, 2021-22 and 2022-23.
Also Thursday, the board renewed for 2020-21:
• A standard software maintenance agreement for ProSoft Financial products with Harris School Solutions, agreeing to an increase of $608.89 over last year’s cost of $12,177.78.
• Xello services for the junior and senior high school at a total cost of $1,800.
• A $798 work sampling online license through Pearson for Pre-K Counts assessments.
• A $62 per-hour contract with Camco Physical and Occupational Therapy LLC, paid with Access funds, to provide therapy to students with special needs.
Contracts were approved with Tom Talmadge Painting for $9,950 to paint the exterior of the high school building and elementary school; Perry Driveway Sealing for sealcoat and patching repairs at a cost of $7,500; and C&L Installers to replace stair threads and install commercial carpeting near the high school fitness center for $6,755, and to replace carpeting at the elementary entrance in the amount of $3,368.
The Talmadge and C&L Installers contracts will be covered out of Buildings and Grounds General Operating funds. The board also approved a two-year contract with TNT Excavating to complete field ditching near the band bleachers and from the K-4 playground to the area of sawmill for $6,500.
Johnston said 69 seniors will receive their diplomas in a drive-thru commencement ceremony on June 4 at 6 p.m. in the high school parking lot.
Students honored Thursday night included Penns Manor Education Association Student of the Month Abbey Sleppy, Trey Rainey for placing 10th in a statewide accounting competition, Jordan Hill for receiving a “Future” Business Achievement Award and the Penns Manor Future Business Leaders of America Chapter for fifth place in state competition and a Gold Seal Chapter Award of Merit.
Connor Antonio was honored for his role in state and region bands, the latter along with Allison Johnson.
Connor also was honored for his role in Indiana County bands along with Anna Buggy, Keirstin McCachren, Casandra Ferguson, McKenna Bothell, Gabe Riva, Sarah Stiteler, Isaac Barnhart, Bailey Horn, Erika Dixon, Olivia Cramer, Allison Antonio, Maggie Hill, Breezy Horn, Silas Bothell, Brooke Price, Andrea Schwartz, Ian Shultz, Morgan Hill, Kyleigh Coy and Jillian Bowman.