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Shaler school budget creates 2 new positions, involves tax hike

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By Bethany Hofstetter
Wednesday, June 18, 2014, 9:00 p.m.
 

Shaler Area School District school board members planned to approve a 2014-15 school year budget on June 18 that features the creation of two new positions and the maximum property-tax-rate increase allowed by the state's Act 1 index.

District officials anticipated the final budget would be $77.4 million after school board members requested that Charles Bennett, director of business affairs, find the money to add a principal at Jeffery Primary School and a position of public-relations specialist.

Currently, there is a shared principal between Rogers and Jeffery Primary schools, and there is no public-relations specialist.

Bennett said during the board's work session June 11 that he would have to find an additional $157,000 in the budget to fund the two positions.

“It's not insurmountable,” Bennett said about finding the money, which he anticipated obtaining through using more of the district's fund balance or more reductions throughout the budget.

“We'll make it happen.”

District administrators balanced the budget, prior to the request to fund two additional positions, by reducing budgetary items across the district departments, using $2.2 million of the fund balance and increasing the property-tax rate.

Under the Act 1 index, Shaler Area school board members cannot raise the rate more than 0.58 of a mill for the 2014-15 school year.

The district administrators plan to use the full allowed increase to bring the property-tax rate from 20.76 mills to 21.34 mills, which equals a tax bill of $2,134 for a resident with a home assessed at $100,000 or $4,268 for a home assessed at $200,000, an additional $59 and $118, respectively.

“You have to be proud of this (budget),” Bennett said. “There are no furloughs, no program cuts, there's been technology initiatives, a new math textbook adoptions … there's some good things that are happening in this budget.”

The budget includes $379,000 to purchase a new math book series for students in kindergarten through the eighth grade and money in the technology budget to lease iPads to move forward with the district's Project Advancing Classroom Education, or Project ACE, with the goal of integrating iPads into the classrooms across the district and eventually establishing a one-to-one initiative.

Bennett expressed some concern with using $2.2 million of the fund balance to balance the 2014-15 budget, but said he overall was pleased with the budget.

“We've done pretty well without sacrificing too much,” he said.

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