ShareThis Page

Freeport school board to adopt preliminary budget

| Thursday, Feb. 7, 2013, 12:52 a.m.

Freeport Area School District officials say that the 5 percent real estate tax increase included in the district's 2013-14 preliminary budget is just that — preliminary.

“It's a best guess at this point in time without knowing where the Legislature is going (with the state budget), and without incorporating what we have to sit down and do over the next couple of months,” said Business Manager William Reilly.

The state requires districts to pass a preliminary budget by the end of February if the district intends to seek permission to raise taxes beyond the state-set, inflation-based limit. Freeport Area's tax hike limit is 2.3 percent.

The school board is set to approve the $26.4 million preliminary spending plan Wednesday.

Districts are allowed to increasetaxes beyond the limit if they meet certain requirements called exceptions.

The district intends to seek exceptions for rising retirement benefit contributions and special education costs.

The district's contribution to the Public School Employees' Retirement System (PSERS) will increase by 25 percent in 2013-14, Reilly said.

And special education funding will remain flat for the sixth straight year, based on Gov. Tom Corbett's proposed 2013-14 budget released Tuesday.

Course considerations

The school board is considering the administration's proposal of adding an “early bird” class period, which would be held daily before the high school's actual start time.

Adding the new period, which will run from 7 a.m. to 7:45 a.m., will be based on student interest, said program director Larry Robb.

“We have identified courses that often have conflicts, either because of students' schedule or for the teachers who are teaching it,” he said.

Some of those courses include psychology, calculus and French 3.

“Our main objective is to find extra options for kids,” Robb said.

Once students sign up for a class they must commit to attend for the entire course. Parents would have to provide transportation.

Robb said the district's teachers' union supports the early morning class. He said he does not anticipate any problems in formalizing an agreement with the union.

The district's administration also is asking the board to consider changes to the Advanced Placement program.

Robb said that based on teachers' suggestions, they'd like to require students who take an AP course to take the AP exam. If students earn a passing score on the exam, they may be able to earn college credits for the high school course.

The district would pay for the exam, which would cost about $6,000 based on student enrollment of 75 in all of the district's AP courses.

The district currently offers AP English, calculus and American history. The administration wants to add an AP biology course.

The school board is set to consider the changes Wednesday.

Jodi Weigand is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-226-4702 or jweigand@tribweb.com.

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.