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Connellsville Area School Board begins budget preparation

| Wednesday, Jan. 9, 2013, 8:53 a.m.

The Connellsville Area School Board will hold a special meeting in January to decide whether it should take the steps needed in case the board would have to seek an increase in real estate taxes above the state-mandated index of 2.5 percent in the 2013-14 budget.

School board President Jon Detwiler said the school board's past practice has been to stay within the limit imposed by the Pennsylvania Department of Education.

“The school board hasn't asked to raise real estate taxes above the state limit for the past five years when I was elected to the board,” Detwiler said.

At its regular meeting Wednesday, the board plans to grant approval for Superintendent Daniel Lujetic and the district's administrative team to study the professional district staffing needs based upon instructional program requirements and student enrollment.

The superintendent and administrators will determine the minimum professional staffing required for the upcoming school year based on the studies.

Lujetic will make recommendations to the board during February and March concerning whether any professional or temporary professional positions should be maintained, added, reduced or eliminated during the 2013-2014 school year.

PDE approval may be required if a recommendation is made to eliminate or reduce positions, terminate specific temporary professional employees or suspend and demote professional employees.

The school district would be required to notify any temporary professional and professional employees that could be affected by the process.

The superintendent would work with solicitor Christopher Stern to ensure that proper legal procedures are followed.

After Monday's work session, Detwiler said the board plans to make the decision Wednesday to allow the superintendent to begin plans for staffing needs for the 2013-2014 fiscal year.

“We're authorizing the superintendent to look at the entire school district and begin plans,” Detwiler said. “The superintendent will review the student/teacher ratios to determine if it would be necessary to move teachers into other positions.”

Detwiler said he does not anticipate any teacher furloughs in the school district.

“This is just a formality,” he said. “We are giving the superintendent authorization to do his job. We started this process last year. This worked very well last year, and we're going to continue to allow the superintendent to plan for the future.”

Cindy Ekas is a freelance writer.

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