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BLAIRSVILLE-SALTSBURG: For sixth year, directors OK budget with no tax increase

by on June 25, 2014 10:55 AM

BURRELL TOWNSHIP — The Blairsville-Saltsburg school board passed a budget Tuesday that holds the line on taxes for the sixth year in a row.

The $31,517,344 budget is an increase of 3.45 percent — about $1 million — from last year’s budget, said Eric Kocsis, business manager.

It passed on a unanimous vote.

Increases in expenditures are reflected in salaries, retirement, Social Security, health insurance and services through organizations such as ARIN IU 28 and the Indiana County Technology Center.

The majority of the increase — $248,000 — is due to rising pension costs, Kocsis said.

With the approved budget, the millage rate remains at 126.34 for Indiana County residents and 109.36 for Westmoreland County residents.

Act I gaming funds of $1,133,935 will allow properties that qualify for homestead/farmstead exclusions a $306.50 credit in Indiana County and a $306.62 credit in Westmoreland County.

The board also voted to keep other taxes in the district the same.

The per capita tax is $5 for each resident of the district age 18 or older. The earned income and net profit tax remains at 0.75 percent, and the real estate transfer tax is still 1 percent. The Emergency and Municipal Service tax is $10 for all employed individuals in the district.

The board set the real estate discount rate at 2 percent, and the penalty rate at 10 percent.

The board also renewed contracts with the superintendent, business manager and director of buildings and grounds. Members Holly Hall and Rick Harper voted against the motion.

Superintendent Tammy Whitfield’s contract was renewed in advance of the end of her current contract, from April 8, 2015, through April 7, 2020, with a salary of $136,468 and annual increases of 3 percent, except for the July 1, 2015, raise, which will be 2 percent.

Business manager Kocsis will receive $106,806 under a new contract from July 1 to June 30, 2019, with 3 percent increases.

H. Patrick Rosborough, director of maintenance, buildings and grounds, was approved for a contract from July 1 to June 30, 2017. His salary is $65, 841 with increases of 3 percent.

Also at Tuesday’s meeting, the board approved the following raises for this year:

• James Brida, director of food services, $1,532

• Leigh Free, transportation coordinator, $1,871

• Kocsis, business manager, $3,111 • Rosborough, director of maintenance, buildings and grounds, $1,918

• Whitfield, superintendent, $2,676

• Joseph Baker, Blairsville Elementary principal, $1,761

• Allan Berkhimer, Saltsburg Middle/High School principal, $1,597

• Regina Geesey, supervisor of special education, $1,792

• Tracy Richards, Saltsburg Elementary principal, $2,549

• Jeff Soles, Blairsville Middle/High School principal, $2,676

Salary increases of $1,500 were also approved for the following nonunion staff: Kathy Himes, administrative assistant to the superintendent; Alice Santoro, administrative assistant to the assistant superintendent; Becky Halberg, payroll specialist/accounts payable; Nancy Powell, administrative assistant to the business manager; and Jay Batsa, information technology systems technician.

Member Hall voted against the raises.

In other business, the board:

• Accepted a bid of $143,900 from BNC Construction, of Champion, to repair damage from soil erosion at the Blairsville football stadium. The board also rejected all bids to replace the bleachers at the Blairsville stadium. Also related, the board authorized a contract to contract Geomechanics Inc. to monitor the reconstruction of the slope.

• Approved an agreement with Fiorina Paving to pave one-third of each parking lot at each campus, and to reseal and repair cracks. Cost is $4,745 for the Saltsburg campus and $9,150 for Blairsville.

• Will advertise for bids to replace the air conditioning system at Blairsville Middle/High School.

• Approved the addition of Purchase Line School District as a member of the Indiana County Technology Center. Requirements include the approval of all other participating districts to join. Purchase Line was the remaining school in Indiana County that had not yet joined.

• Accepted the state audit report for the year ending June 30, 2013, with no findings.

• Authorized HHSDR Architects & Engineers to prepare a cost analysis for paving of the Blairsville parking lot and for window replacement at the Blairsville campus.

• Approved a health care waiver plan to allow employees to receive cash instead of medical coverage.

• Approved a license agreement with the National Network of Digital Schools. The company provides educational services such as curriculum for traditional and online schools.

• Will purchase the ScienceFusion program from Houghton Mifflin Harcourt for science instruction from kindergarten to eighth grade, at a cost not to exceed $90,000. The board also approved the purchase of the following instructional materials: biology, Pearson Mill/Levin, not to exceed $10,300; AP chemistry and chemistry, Pearson Mill/Levin, not to exceed $22,000; Physics for Scientists and Engineers, AP edition, Cengage’s, and Physics, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt’s Holt-McDougal, not to exceed $14,700.

• Will purchase four microscope microcams for biology classrooms and labs for $4,000. The board also approved the purchase of Current Science magazine as a middle school supplement not to exceed $615.

• Approved a contract with NHS school for the 2014-15 year for services for students with autism or emotional disturbances.

• Approved the following field trip requests at no cost to the district: Saltsburg fifth grade, McKeever Outdoor Education Center, Feb. 18 to 20, and to Gettysburg National Battlefield on May 14; and BSSD gifted support students to Chicago May 28 to 30.

• Approved the following supplemental contracts: Melinda Weimer, BMHS band front adviser; Mary Aikinsm BMHS 11th-grade class adviser; Jason Mottillo, SMHS assistant co-director with Zack Cable; Sharon Highberger, SMHS social studies chair; Heather Droste, SMHS science chair; Melissa Milanak, BSSD head and assistant girls’ track co-coach with Brandy DelleDonne; and Josh Mottillo, BMHS assistant band director.

• Approved the hiring of an intern for the food department for July at a cost not to exceed $1,000.

• Approved the following resignation requests: Karen Marshall, music teacher, effective at the end of the contract year; and Karen Sulkosky, BES instructional assistant, effective June 10. The board will advertise the open positions.

• Hired teacher Mark DeMarines at the second step of the Instructional I salary scale, $46,000 with benefits. DeMarines will begin Aug. 22 pending receipt of paperwork and clearances.

• Approved the following substitutes: Jessica Henry, summer custodian; Lacey Shearer, custodian; and Briana Carr, summer custodian.

• Authorized the administration to continue the elimination of all district-funded field trips for the 2014-15 year. Members Hall, Harper, Holly Gibson and Linda Brown voted against the motion. The board also authorized the elimination of all district-funded athletic conferences and out-of district, non-required principal meetings.

• Authorized district students to participate in all Heritage Conference academic competitions for the school year. Also authorized were secondary choral and band programs in local, regional and state competitions.

• Recognized the Saltsburg Football Boosters and Blairsville Junior Wrestling Boosters as official organizations that support students of the district.

• Approved a voluntary separation agreement with two unnamed students.

Margaret Weaver has served as a Gazette staff writer since 2006. She covers Clymer Borough, the Blairsville-Saltsburg School District and Blairsville court, and also works in the areas of layout, design and editing. She can be reached at
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