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Final version of Norwin's budget holds tax rate steady

Norwin school directors formally approved a 2011-12 budget Monday night that features no property tax increase.

Directors worked with administrators on a $56.71 million budget, which is a $1.37 million decrease in spending from the fiscal year that closes at the end of the month. Officials relied on about $480,000 from the district's $4 million fund balance to complete the spending plan.

After raising taxes by 1.85 mills last year, the board kept the tax rate at 65.8 mills. The district collects another 1.2 mills for the Norwin Public Library.

District officials said the average tax levy for a Norwin residential taxpayer is $1,473.

Both the homestead and farmstead exclusions for property owners will be $89.98.

Among the new initiatives in the 2011-12 budget are a secondary robotics curriculum and camps and an updated instructional technology, writing and health curriculum at the elementary level.

Also last night, the board reviewed a recent demographic and enrollment study completed by Ingraham Dancu Associates for $14,200. One of the directors, Tom Sturm, suggested last year that the district conduct another study to update information presented about a decade ago by a Carnegie Mellon University professor.

Daniel Dancu, the consulting firm's president, said the population for the district's communities of North Huntingdon, Irwin and North Irwin increased by 3.08 percent to 35,428 after the 2010 Census, although the number of children younger than 5 fell by 1.33 percent and the number of children younger than 18 dropped by almost 11 percent.

Yet steady development in the district should help to stabilize enrollment in the schools, Dancu said. He estimates that by 2020, the enrollment will be 5,358 students, an increase of 159 students from 2010-11.

"Things are going to continue to increase at a moderate level," he said. "There are no huge spikes."

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