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Property-tax rate higher in North Hills School District preliminary budget

| Friday, May 2, 2014, 5:53 p.m.

The North Hills School District's 2014-15 preliminary budget includes a tax-rate increase to help pay for improvements such as updates to school libraries.

The proposed $72.7 million budget includes a property-tax-rate increase of 0.35 of a mill. If approved, the millage rate would rise from 17.06 to 17.41. The budget for the current school year is $69.7 million.

The preliminary spending plan passed by 8-1 vote at the May 1 meeting.

“I think we've done very well,” board member Tom Kelly said.

Board member Mike Yeomans dissented, saying he still had questions about the budget.

For the owner of a home assessed at $135,000, the median assessment in Ross and West View, the tax increase would amount to an additional $47 a year.

North Hills currently has the fifth-lowest millage in Allegheny County's 41 suburban school districts, according to district officials.

The tax hike would bring in an additional $925,000 that would be used entirely for capital improvements. The improvements would include updates for the middle and high school libraries and creating a science, technology, engineering, art and mathematics, or STEAM, center at the middle school.

The library updates and STEAM center would integrate technology that fits in with the district's push towards digital learning, Superintendent Patrick Mannarino said.

The budget also includes four new teaching positions, technology infrastructure updates and new curriculum materials.

The new teaching positions are an elementary math coach who would work with the district's elementary teachers, an elementary student-assistance specialist based at Ross Elementary, a second elementary literacy coach and a reading specialist who would work in West View and Highcliff elementaries.

The final budget is scheduled for approval at the board's June 5 meeting, set for 7 p.m. in the large group instruction Room at North Hills Middle School, 55 Rochester Road in Ross Township.

There also will be a public budget committee meeting at 7 p.m. May 15 in the district's administration center, 135 Sixth Ave. in Ross.

Kelsey Shea is a staff writer at Trib Total Media. Reach her at kshea@tribweb.com or at 724-772-6353.

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