Ligonier Valley School Board approves 1.5-mill tax increase
Property owners in the Ligonier Valley School District will see a 1.5-mill increase in school taxes.
School directors voted unanimously to approve a $28.2 million final budget that takes the levy on real estate to 76.5 mills at its June 11 meeting. The budget estimates revenues at $27.7 million, and it proposes using $574,756 from the district's fund balance to cover expenditures, such as the Laurel Valley Elementary School roof replacement.
Board member Kim Dickert-Wallace was not present.
The district's average taxpayer, with a home with a median assessed valuation of $16,890, will see an increase of $25.34 from last year. One mill brings in about $169,000 to the district, and there are 4,745 properties in the district.
Business Manager Michelle Krebs said according to state budget updates, it does not appear the school will receive Gov. Tom Corbett's proposed Ready to Learn Grant because of shortfalls in state revenue.
At last month's meeting, Krebs said there were “no huge items” being cut in the budget, and wages and benefits were the biggest increases. She expressed concern about the rising costs of health care and the Public School Employees' Retirement System over the next few years.
Last week, board member Irvin Tantlinger said he hated to increase taxes, but he was in favor of the 1.5 increase because of the outlook for future years with pension and health care costs increasing. Board member Carolyn Shafer agreed with Tantlinger.
Board member Irma Hutchinson thanked Krebs for providing projections for upcoming years' costs.
“We have to look beyond this year,” Hutchinson said. “We have to look down the road as well.”
Board member John Maier expressed frustration with how the state has not passed a budget, yet schools are expected to do so.
Superintendent Dr. Chris Oldham said the board made a “necessary decision.”
“There are just too many unknowns right now,” Oldham said, citing uncertainties with the state budget, future of kindergarten enrollment and unsettled contracts within the district and the Eastern Westmoreland Career and Technology Center.
Oldham said the district budgeted for two additional kindergarten teachers at both elementary schools, and if summer enrollment holds true, she said they will need to add at least one teacher. If enrollment holds as it is, she said the district will be able to maintain the current staff numbers and could show a surplus of funds at the end of the school year.
“There are just too many unknowns today, and I think that it was necessary that they had to put on the one and a half,” she said.
In other business, the board approved implementing a STEAM class at Ligonier Valley Middle School for sixth and seventh grades.
Students will have the class every six weeks, with teacher Adam Storey at the helm.
Last August, the district debuted a STEAM class at Laurel Valley and R.K. Mellon Elementary Schools, taught by Adam Petalino. Some of Petalino's lessons included learning to build and program LEGO robots and exploring engineering and art concepts.
“We've had a lot of success at the elementary (school), and it has become a very popular program among the students,” Oldham said.
Middle school principal Dave Steimer said the new class will likely focus on different types of energies, like solar and wind energies.
The next meeting is 7 p.m. July 14 with a work session at 6 p.m.
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.
- Ligonier chamber promotes ‘Duck Dash’ fundraiser
- Valley School of Ligonier alumna opens shop on West Main Street
- Ligonier Valley youth prepare for ‘James and the Giant Peach’