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Monessen budget requires no tax hike

| Friday, June 20, 2014, 12:01 a.m.

The Monessen School Board on Thursday approved a new budget and welcomed a new high school principal for the new school year.

The $13,882,105 spending plan will hold the line on property taxes for a third straight year.

The final spending plan mirrored the tentative budget adopted last month.

Superintendent Dr. Leanne Spazak said pension and health care costs were a challenge in balancing the budget without need for a real estate tax hike. But she said the district realized savings by replacing retiring staff members with new hires at lower steps on the salary scale.

The board agreed to seek a $2 million tax revenue anticipation note from Citizens Bank if the state does not pass a budget by the June 30 deadline.

“Right now, we're pretty good,” Spazak said. “We're where we should be spending wise. We've been preparing for the worst-case scenario in case we get less from the state.”

The board hired Eric Manko as high school principal.

A Donora native, Manko has taught social studies at Ringgold High School the past 10 years.

Manko said he welcomes the opportunity to work close to home, noting his parents still live in Donora.

“I plan on being here as long as they will allow me,” Manko said. “After a couple of days of meeting everyone, it's like a little family here.”

Manko replaces Brian Sutherland, who left the Monessen post to become an elementary principal in the Yough School District.

Retired Monessen High School Principal Randy Marino is helping Manko with the transition. Marino has served the district since April, when Sutherland left.

Manko's salary will be $70,000 for the coming school year. The board approved 2014-15 administrative salaries for elementary center Principal Bethanne Natali, $88,900; middle school Principal Sherry Black, $75,600; and supervisor of psychologist/special education Tiffany Sherred, $58,500.

Each of the four is scheduled to receive $2,500 salary hikes annually through 2016-17 under the Act 93 plan approved by the board Thursday.

Chris Buckley is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-684-2642 or cbuckley@tribweb.com.

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