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United will adopt preliminary budget in new year

| Thursday, Dec. 13, 2012, 8:59 p.m.

United School Board is not ready to pledge that it will keep any potential tax increase in the 2013-14 school year within a state-determined index of 2.5 percent.

As a result, the board by February will have to approve a preliminary budget for the coming fiscal year.

The board at its regular Tuesday meeting voted to advertise its intention to adopt a preliminary 2013-14 spending plan.

Board President Don Davis said the district intends to pursue all the exceptions that are available to it, in order to give United the option of increasing taxes beyond the index without triggering a state requirement that the millage hike be approved by a voter referendum.

Davis said the board's goal is to not have to exceed the tax index. But, he said, “If something happens that we had to, we would like to have the opportunity to go a little bit above (the index).”

The board expects to proceed with the preliminary budget at its January meeting.

While the board normally holds a preliminary work session a week before its regular voting meeting, next month both the work session and voting meeting will be held together, on Jan. 8.

In other financial matters, the board approved a change order of $5,625 submitted by contractor Mid-State Construction for work on renovation of the United Elementary School. The amount relates to additional drainage that was needed in the elementary parking lot.

The board granted permission for Tammy Tuccarello, the district director of finance, to enroll United in the Clear Choice energy curtailment program for the 2013-14 year. It would be the second year United has taken part in the program, which rewards participating districts financially if they are able to cut back their electrical usage during periods of peak demand on the regional power grid.

Terms offered for participating in the coming year's program were not yet known.

United also renewed its participation in the Pennsylvania School Boards Association Better Unemployment Compensation System Program Agree ment for 2013 and it adopted a resolution confirming a recent decision to obtain special education supervisory services through the ARIN Intermediate Unit.

In personnel matters, the board accepted the immediate resignation of Greg Mytrysak from the supplemental position of head baseball coach.

In a later phone interview, Mytrysak indicated that, after many years coaching in the program, he felt the timing was right for him to take a step back. He noted he started as the assistant baseball coach in the late 1980s and has been head coach for about six years.

“I gave this some thought for quite a while,” he said of his decision to resign from the coaching post. “I thought maybe this would be a good time to step aside.”

He added that, for now, it's his intention to continue with his other major coaching duties next fall, leading the Lions varsity football program.

The school board approved a unpaid family medical leave of up to 12 weeks for elementary instructor Aimee Erwin, beginning on about Jan. 16. Jessica Ellis was approved as a long-term substitute to fill the temporary second-grade teaching vacancy.

Katie Moffa was approved as a long-term substitute for Marbeth Truscello, in first grade.

Ellen Plowman was approved as a homebound instructor for an eighth-grade student.

Kristie Good will accompany up to 15 United students to the Pennsylvania Farm Show Jan. 7-8 in Harrisburg at a cost of $1,270. She will return to Harrisburg Feb. 16-17. along with 5-8 students, for the Agriculture Cooperation Establishes Success (ACES) Convention at a cost of $300.

Acey Gongaware will take one student to the All-East In-Service Conference and Music Festival April 4-7 in Hartford, Conn., at a cost of $1,623.40.

The board recognized senior Shawn Lichvar, who has qualified for state competition a total of five times — either individually or as a member of a team — in his combined career in track and cross country. He told the board he hopes to improve that record with a sixth trip to states following the coming spring track season.

United board member Norma Carpenter recognized the accomplishments of United alumnus Kevin Slonka, who obtained a bachelor's degree in information technology from Mt. Aloysius College in 2005, followed by master's degrees in information technology and information security and assurance from Robert Morris University.

He is currently pursuing a master's degree at Robert Morris information systems and communications with research into malicious social engineering tactics on Facebook. He also is an instructor at Mt. Aloysius and Penn Highlands Community College.

Jeff Himler is an editor for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-459-6100, ext. 2910 or

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