Mt. Lebanon eyes options to limit millage increase
The Mt. Lebanon School Board is weighing student activity fees and potential concessions from unionized employees as a means to reduce a 0.55-mill tax increase in next year's budget.
District staff are working on an $84.47 million preliminary budget that would be balanced with the tax money and about $515,000 from cuts in non-instructional areas. At a special meeting on Tuesday, board members listed about 20 potential cuts or sources of money to gauge support.
“We'll continue to work on bringing the millage increase down,” said Superintendant Timothy Steinhauer. “By the time we hit (final budget discussions in) May, it's likely you'll see reductions in that.”
The board approved doubling the $50 per semester fee for students to park at the high school, and is considering whether to charge a $50 fee for students participating in after-school activities.
The proposed tax increase would bring the school district's tax rate to 27.68 mills, or $2,768 for every $100,000 of a home's assessed value. Neighboring Upper St. Clair and Bethel Park have rates of 25.78 and 25.49 mills, respectively.
State law says that once the district accounts for property reassessments that took effect this year, it will have to lower the rate so total revenue would be the same as before the reassessment.
The district hasn't committed to a rate because many property owners are appealing their assessments, but Mt. Lebanon municipal officials said the average assessed value of residences in the community went up about 25 percent.
The board asked Steinhauer to talk to unions representing teachers and staff about concessions, such as taking half of the promised raises for next year or rescheduling professional days.
Pete Bouvy, a 10th-grade math teacher and president of the Mt. Lebanon Education Association, said the teachers' union would be willing to hear any proposals from the district but would require a vote from the entire membership to approve such concessions.
“If they make a formal request, we've been willing to listen,” he said. “Taking half a raise would be pretty substantial.”
Most board members wanted to discard many proposed cuts. They voted against ideas such as cutting reading specialists, elementary school librarians, a high school math lab teacher, instructional support team members and/or an elementary school principal.
“I'm disappointed in what we've had to work with here,” said board member Dan Remely. “The only choices we've been given would be affecting students in the classroom.”
Board members turned down suggestions to stop broadcasting board meetings on public-access cable, or to cut the high school musical from every year to every other year.
“How would you feel asking the football teams not to play half their games?” said board member Larry Lebowitz.
Board members are willing to consider eliminating the district's financial support for the hockey and rowing clubs; increasing the size of some secondary school classes; and seeing whether the state would allow some sports and clubs to count toward the district's physical education course requirement so there could be fewer gym classes.
Administrators will study those items and present recommendations before the board's second meeting in April.
“There needs to be more income to offset our increasing expenses,” Lebowitz said. “These fees will be ... a reasonable offset to ensure our programs aren't cut.”
The board will meet at 7:30 p.m. Monday and on April 15 in Jefferson Middle School library.
Matthew Santoni is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-380-5625 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Add Matthew Santoni to your Google+ circles.
Subscribe today! Click here for our subscription offers.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Archery hunting in Mt. Lebanon called off for now
- Mt. Lebanon history center project gets OK
- Teens elevate Western Pa. communities with Eagle Scout projects
- eReader books also available to borrow at local libraries
- 50 years later, Vietnam vet gets his degree at Westminster
- Decorated World War II veteran gets visit, gift from ex-Steeler
- YMCA program helps people with mobility issues regain movement
- Museum’s ‘Carnegie Trees’ exhibit shows ‘Winter Wonders’
- More fear ‘tackle’ football too risky for kids