LVSD taxes stay within legal limit
By Jewels Phraner
Published: Wednesday, Jan. 23, 2013, 9:01 p.m.
Ligonier Valley school directors pledged last week to avoid raising taxes higher than the legal limit for the 2013-14 school year.
At the urging of business manager Don Irwin, school directors passed a resolution stipulating there will be no tax increase for 2013-14 that will exceed the index established by the state Department of Education. The index determines the percentage of tax increase districts are allowed by law, without the use of exceptions.
For Ligonier, that means property taxes will not increase by more than 1.7 percent, or 1.275 mills.
“We're really in pretty good shape for the 2013-14 school year,” Irwin said. “There's no reason why we shouldn't be able to stay within the 1.7 percent index without applying for exceptions or anything else.”
For the last two years, the district has used approved exceptions to raise taxes higher than the legal limit stipulated by Act 1.
School directors also rejected a bid for about $13,000 from World Racing Group Inc., for the sale of Laurel Valley Middle/High School's bleachers and press box.
Superintendent Chris Oldham said the bid was rejected because the press box wasn't included in the sale and the company offered only $1,000 for the bleachers.
“We think we can get more than that for the bleachers,” President Bruce Robinson said.
Football Boosters president Christy Boyd asked directors to consider bringing Laurel Valley's press box to Weller Field.
“The football boosters are working really hard to raise money to renovate the Weller Field complex,” Boyd said. “We need new handicapped-accessible bleachers and a new press box. Please consider not selling any of the items (from Laurel Valley) if we can use them.”
Robinson said after the meeting that the board would consider the request.
Officials also approved reallocating up to $25,000 to provide an additional bus to take sophomores from Ligonier Valley High School to the Eastern Westmoreland Career and Technical Center near Latrobe this semester.
Principal Tim Cantor reported that a single bus was taking up to 59 students on the 15- to 18-minute trip. With three students sitting on each seat, the bus could hold 66 students.
“From my understanding it's been a tight fit,” Oldham said. “That's three people my size or your size sharing one bench seat.”
An additional $45,000 was allocated to purchase 41 iPads for use in classrooms in Ligonier Middle and Ligonier High schools.
Resident Mike Kelly said he felt like the district wasn't shopping around enough to get a better deal on the 16-gigabyte iPads.
“Apple can't offer discounts the way Walmart or other online dealers can,” Kelly said.
In other news, officials accepted the resignation of Director Lynn Parker. Ligonier Township resident Kimberly Dickert-Wallace was appointed to fill the vacancy.
Many residents at the meeting voiced opposition to the seemingly closed-door appointment.
“In many open districts, school directors advertise the vacancy and ask for letters of interest,” Kelly said. “In many open districts, the person who receives the next-highest number of votes in the last election is appointed.”
Director Jack McDowell said Dickert-Wallace is extremely qualified.
“She is very active in the schools, she was a substitute teacher, she's young and has kids in the district. I think she's everything we want in a school board member,” McDowell said.
Oldham said Dickert-Wallace expressed interest in the vacancy after Parker's absence at the last several board meetings.
Jewels Phraner is a reporter for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-850-1218 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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