KENWOOD — The Penns Manor Area school board addressed concerns about the 13.5 mill tax increase that could accompany the proposed 2014-15 preliminary budget during the board’s regular meeting on Thursday.
The proposed budget was approved by the board during the Feb. 20 regular meeting. According to acting Superintendent Daren Johnston, 1 mill brings in $26,000 to the district.
The full 13.5 mill increase would cost the average property owner an additional $131 per year.
Discussion of the tax increase came after public comments were made blaming the board for being too “generous” with its money last year.
“I’m a little concerned,” said Ron Larch, a Cherryhill Township resident and father of two Penns Manor students. “It seems like the end of last year and the beginning of this year, you were quite generous in taxpayer money, in giving away compensation and retroactive pay.”
Larch said properties in the district are currently being reassessed, and those living on a fixed income will be “shocked” when they see the raise in taxes.
“Thirteen-and-a-half mills?” he said. “Come on, that just seems insane after you were being quite generous, as I said before, with our money.”
“As a quick response, all we’ve done is we’ve passed a preliminary budget with the 13.5 mills,” said board President Ronald Beilchick. “That doesn’t mean that’s where it’s going to end up.”
“All that is, is it gives the board the opportunity to go above the index, meaning the limit of the state, and it allows us to go above because we’ve had more expense in retirement, health care and special education,” Johnston said.
He indicated the board is looking into ways of reducing that increase. One area he wants to address is cyber school students. According to Johnston, cyber school students are costing the district $270,000. Currently, there are 21 cyber school students in the district in grades 1-12, each costing the district a range of $12,000 to $26,000 per student. He said he would like to meet with the parents of each student and ask that the district be allowed to be the education provider for that student.
“It would be online,” Johnston said. “It would be exactly what they’re doing now, only it would be provided by us instead of the chosen schools that they’re out there with.”
He explained that even though a student withdraws from the physical school to attend cyber school, the student still resides within the district, meaning the bill for the schooling — which includes a laptop, Internet service and teacher expenses — is billed to Penns Manor.
“It is a big chunk that we’re spending that, honestly, we didn’t budget for,” he said.
He explained that Penns Manor has the capability of providing cyber schooling at a fraction of the cost to the district by using the district’s own resources.
In other business, the board approved:
• The memorandum of agreement between the Penns Manor Area School District and the Penns Manor Education Association in regard to Michelle Dolges serving as the high school substitute principal.
• The appointment of Amanda Roach as the temporary special-education department chair, effective today through the end of the 2013-14 school year at a salary of $1,312.74.
• The resignation of Dolores Mack as a cafeteria employee. Mack has been employed by Penns Manor since 1976.
• The resignation of Andrew Bridge as a technology education teacher. Bridge has been employed by Penns Manor since 1980.
• The resignation of Anthony Delfonso as a social studies teacher. Delfonso has been employed by Penns Manor since 1982.
• The resignation of Terrie Grove as a librarian. Grove has been employed by Penns Manor since 1981.
• A revision to the 2013-14 school calendar to reflect days that school will now be in session as snow makeup days. Those days will now be Monday, April 17 and 22, May 23 and June 9-11.
• The school calendar for the 2014-15 school year. The first teacher day will be Aug. 25 and the first student day will be Aug. 27. The tentative last day for students will be June 4, 2015, and for teachers will be June 5, 2015.
• The district’s participation in the Pregnant and Parenting Teens Program provided by ARIN IU 28 at a $900 cost to the district.
• The ARIN IU 28 general operating budget in the amount of $3,027,138 with the district’s share being $21,176.
• Zack Cramer, Jacob Beisel and Fred Mitchell as 2014 track and field volunteers.
• Hiring Adelle Dolney as the second junior high volleyball assistant coach at a salary of $1,375.90.
• Hiring Ray Beisel as the head boys’ track and field coach at a salary of $3,551.10.
• Hiring Tom Huber as the assistant boys’ track and field coach at a salary of $2,663.32.
• The resignation of Jocelyn Lonsinger as head cheerleading coach. The board has the permission to post and advertise the position if needed.