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MARION CENTER: District to place preliminary 2014-15 budget on display

by RANDY WELLS on January 29, 2014 10:50 AM

MARION CENTER — As anticipated, and on the recommendation of district business manager Richard Martini, the Marion Center Area school directors Monday agreed to put on display a preliminary budget for 2014-15.

Taking that option will give the directors more flexibility in reaching a final budget because they will learn next week what Gov. Tom Corbett will propose for state funding for education next year.

Putting a preliminary budget on display will also allow the school district to apply for certain exceptions above the Act 1 Index, and — if needed — raise real estate taxes above the cap of 3.03 mills. To do so, the directors would have to apply by March 6 for approval of the exceptions from the state Department of Education.

One possible need for an exception might be for additional tax revenue to cover the district’s contribution next year to the Public School Employees’ Retirement System. The contribution rate in the current school year is 16.9 percent (an approximate $1.6 million expense for Marion Center). The contribution rate will increase to 21.4 percent in 2014-15, a projected expense of $2,164,000 for the district.

The preliminary general fund budget for 2013-14 distributed by Martini Monday projects revenues of $23,204,991 and expenditures of $23,405,024.

Martini said the preliminary budget will be on display at the district’s administration office beginning today.

The directors revised the 2013-14 school calendar to make up class days canceled because of winter weather. Under the change, March 17 and April 22 will now be regular school days for students and staff.

The board also approved a world language program that will allow seventh- and eighth-grade students to begin learning French or Spanish as an elective, starting next fall. The earliest Marion Center students can now start learning a foreign language is in their freshman year.

In another curriculum item, the directors approved changes to the high school math program. A new course, PSSA math, will be offered to eighth-graders as a preparatory algebra course. And algebra I will be offered as a course available over two years as algebra IA in the first year and algebra IB in the following year. Algebra I will also still be offered as a single-year course as it is now.

The board approved travel by social studies teacher Chris Peters and students to compete today and Thursday in Philadelphia in the “We the People: The Citizen and the Constitution” competition, sponsored by the Center for Civic Education.

The competition tests students’ knowledge and understanding of the Constitution in a simulated congressional hearing format, with strict time limits on various elements of the competition.

A Marion Center team was the state champion in 2010 and went on to the national competition. Other Marion Center “We the People” teams placed second and third in Pennsylvania in previous years.

In other action the directors:

• Agreed to renew the contract of Superintendent Dr. Frank Garritano. Garritano said details of the contract renewal remain to be worked out. He joined the district as interim superintendent in 2010.

• Approved a curriculum-in-action trip for Lt. Col. (retired) Gary Wolbert and the high school’s Air Force JrROTC cadets to Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, the Air Force Museum and Ohio Caverns, all near Dayton, Ohio, May 1-3.

• Renewed the contract through 2016 with Air Force Master Sgt. (retired) Matthew Schmidt as a JrROTC instructor.

• Accepted the resignation of Tiffany Frank and Sarah Fyock as the head junior high and assistant junior high volleyball coaches, respectively.

• Approved supplemental contracts with Katie Proch, for $2,500, as head junior high volleyball coach, and with John Proch, for $2,000, as the assistant junior high volleyball coach; with Melissa Bishop, for $2,950, as assistant softball coach; and with Ryan Lightcap, for $2,500, as an assistant baseball coach.

• Approved Doug Snyder as a volunteer softball coach and Justin LaMantia as a volunteer baseball coach.

January is school board recognition month in Pennsylvania, and Monday the Marion Center directors were thanked for their service by Garritano and by the Marion Center Area Education Association.

Garritano called school directors “dedicated volunteers” and “everyday heroes” who contribute, on average, 20 hours per month to help run their school districts.

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