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Leechburg Area School Board to vote on budget with tax increase

| Friday, June 13, 2014, 8:10 a.m.

The Leechburg Area School Board is set to vote on a $13.4 million budget for next school year that includes a real estate tax increase.

The millage rate for Leechburg and Gilpin Township in Armstrong County will be 67.61 mills, a 4.18 percent increase.

The rate in West Leechburg, Westmoreland County will be 110.08 mills, a hike of 3.3 percent.

School districts that cross county lines have different average assessed values and, thus, different millage rates.

The Homestead/Farmstead Exclusion, however, will be $249 for property owners in both counties.

The administrative salaries and the security officer's salary for the 2014-15 school year will be set by the board when it votes on the budget June 26.

Gas drilling considered

The school board will have a special meeting at 6:30 p.m. on Monday to consider an agreement with a Westmoreland County consulting firm to market oil and natural gas drilling rights on 8 acres of district-owned property in West Leechburg.

The board will discuss a signup fee, a percentage the consultants would receive and a proposed 15 percent royalty for the school district over 12 to 18 months.

The school board will take on any business that would arise during the special meeting.

In other business

• The school board will consider moving its meetings to the second and third Wednesdays of the month starting in July.

Since January, the school board has met on the second and fourth Thursdays of the month, but the sentiment of the board seems to favor the Wednesday dates.

• The school board thanked Frank Prazenica for his service as acting superintendent for the past year.

Prazenica's tenure was longer than planned because the search to replace former Superintendent James Budzilek lasted longer than anticipated. The board's first selection bowed out because of family considerations.

New Superintendent Ian Magness attended Thursday's meeting. His start date at Leechburg Area has not been determined, since his final day with the Blairsville-Saltsburg School District is not firm.

• Officials said the school district's security camera system should be up and running by the middle of next week.

About 20 cameras, inside and outside the buildings, will be utilized.

Students will have the ramifications of the system explained in next year's handbook.

• The school board is expected to accept the retirement of Technology Assistant Kenneth Jarrett, effective Aug. 29.

The job description for the new food service director will be outlined on June 26.

The school board thanked Kathy Carmellino for stepping in as the head chef this past school year.

The school board expects to encourage qualified families to take advantage of the federal free and reduced school lunch program for the next school year.

George Guido is a freelance writer for Trib Total Media.

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