Tax increase approved for Gateway School District
The Gateway School Board approved a tax increase for the 2013-14 school year and cut jobs to balance a $67.8 million budget.
School directors Bill Bailey, Scott Williams and Dave Magill dissented. The 2013-14 budget includes nearly $950,000 for new technology, which some school directors said is frivolous.
The 2-percent tax increase — which brings the 2013-14 millage rate to 18.8919 — amounts to about $40 a year for the owner of a valued at $107,900, the estimated average assessment in Monroeville. It represents about $15 for a home valued at $35,200, Pitcairn's average assessment.
The tax increase — the sixth in the last 11 years — could generate about $876,000. Rawson and Magill have criticized the budget's $2.3 million increase in expenditures, which factored in to the rate increase.
They fought to reduce spending on technology. Rawson said the increase is unfair to residents on fixed incomes and families who no longer have children in the schools.
“These people really can't afford a millage increase,” Rawson said. “In these times, I think we need to look and see if there are things that we could do without and not implement everything at one time.”
Magill and Rawson said a property tax increase also would scare away potential new businesses.
“You're making a bad move,” Magill said. “I can't be a part of that. I'm done.”
The board approved some personnel cuts, including leaving four teaching positions vacant.
Also, 18 lunchroom-aide positions were cut. Next school year, one lunchroom aide will work in each elementary school cafeteria. Teachers will help fill the void created by the cuts, said Bob Reger, assistant to the superintendent. Personnel cuts were due in part to a stagnant tax base, reduced government funding and declined enrollment.
School director Bob Elms said more tax revenue is needed to provide one-on-one teaching and high-quality programs.
“Our goals here are to reduce the achievement gap between the kids,” Elms said. “We can't reduce it by reducing staff. We're going the wrong way if we cut all these costs.”
Monroeville resident and school board candidate Chad Stubenbort said the school board should try harder to generate new revenue in lieu of a tax increase. Officials addressed two potential revenue generators during the budget process.
“The first being the facility rental fees, which were botched initially and scared some groups away,” Stubenbort said. “Luckily, the fees have been fixed to help bring some groups back.”
Stubenbort also said the district should expand advertising and sponsorship opportunities at Gateway.
Kyle Lawson is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-856-7400, ext. 8755, or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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.