United School District eyes 8-mill tax hike
Property owners in the United School District could face an 8-mill tax hike next school year, based on a tentative 2013-14 budget the school board approved Tuesday.
School officials said they hope to trim the planned expenditures of $20,380,945 as well as the proposed tax increase by the time a final version of the budget is adopted in June.
The tentative budget was approved by a 5-2 vote following an executive session for personnel reasons at Tuesday's special meeting. Robert Lichtenfels and John Poorbaugh voted against the budget, both indicating they wanted more time to review and discuss the spending plan. Robert Dill and Sandra Mack were absent.
The district has the ability to raise its real estate tax rate by up to 8 mills without local voter approval thanks to approved state exceptions for special education, retirement contributions and maintenance of local revenues.
President Don Davis noted the school board can reduce that rate but can't increase it as part of possible modifications in the final 2013-14 budget.
“The best case is we could go down a little lower than that,” Davis said. “There are still some things we're looking at to make reductions.”
An 8-mill hike would increase United's real estate tax to 104.35 mills. With proposed revenues of just $18,393,869, the district would have to dip into its fund balance for more than $1.9 million in order to bridge the funding gap.
Based on the latest figures, which are not finalized for the current school year, that would leave a remaining fund balance of about $4.5 million.
District officials have been discussing possibilities for reducing personnel costs through attrition. Superintendent Barbara Parkins confirmed there are no plans to fill a custodial position that has been vacant for almost a year.
Davis indicated he believes there are other areas of the budget where the board can pursue cuts that would not involve furloughing teachers.
“We didn't think it was a good idea to furlough teachers where we would approach a class size of 30,” he said. “I don't think we want to do anything that would increase class sizes. That would be detrimental to our students.”
Parkins said the district is looking at a cut of about $8,000 in spending for special education while United's technology budget may increase slightly. She noted that the district may choose to update equipment in its computer-assisted drawing lab with the current computers still capable of being used for other programs.
At its regular meeting a week previously, the board approved a 10-cent hike in school lunch prices in response to the Healthy Hunger Free Kids Act. New prices will be $2.20 for elementary students and $2.30 at the junior-senior high school. Breakfast and reduced lunch prices will remain the same.
The board agreed to implement an elementary autistic support program and a secondary education life support skills program at the high school beginning in the 2013-14 school year.
United also adopted a resolution supporting an effort by other Indiana County districts — including Indiana Area, Homer-Center, Blairsville-Saltsburg and Marion Center — to develop a Challenger Learning Center in the county that would offer students science, technology and mathematics enrichment through space mission simulations. United pledged $1,096, a figure based on its student enrollment, toward initial project costs.
United approved a dual enrollment agreement that will allow qualifying students to take select courses at St. Francis College. Also approved was an articulation agreement with Delaware Valley College that will provide three college credits to United students who complete animal/vet science instruction and the agriculture science curriculum with at least a B average.
The board awarded a contract of $137,600 to Mid-State Construction for replacing the gymnasium floor at the elementary school.
In other business related to renovation of the elementary building, the board approved several change orders totaling $117,827.84 and a credit for $33,837.50.
Subject to review by the district solicitor, the board approved contracts with Simplex Grinnell for an elementary dialer, at a cost of $689, and monitoring systems at the elementary school and high school, for $420 each.
United approved the Indiana County Technology Center's 2013-14 budget with total expenditures of about $5.9 million and revenues of $3.1 million. The district will contribute a share of $439,750, representing a decrease of slightly less than 1 percent from the previous year.
In personnel matters, the board accepted the resignations of Greg Mytrysak as head football coach and Erik Foust as assistant varsity football coach.
Drs. Henry E. Baldinucci and Phillip J. Turco were appointed as school district physicians for 2013-14, each at a salary of $4,000. Dr. Michael Garver will serve as the district dentist at a cost of $2 per exam.
The United board adopted resolutions urging state officials to increase funding for school construction and renovation projects and to pursue pension reform and reform of the funding formula for cyber charter schools.
United agreed to participate jointly with Indiana Area School District in playing host to as many as four French exchange students Oct. 10-25.
The board approved a list of about 100 seniors as candidates for graduation on June 5. The district agreed to waive facility use fees for two related functions — a baccalaureate service planned by the local ministerium on June 4 and a sixth-grade graduation and dance sponsored by the PTG on the evening of May 31.
The district accepted donation of flat screen monitors from Concurrent Technology Corporation and donation of $250 from Sharon DeRubis to purchase high school library books in memory of her brother, Gilbert DeRubis, who was a United earth science teacher.
Jeff Himler is an editor for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-459-6100, ext. 2910 or email@example.com.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Blairsville woman struck by car remains in Pittsburgh hospital
- Blairsville Borough adds new car to police fleet
- Blairsville-Saltsburg study cites savings in school merger
- Accused killer from Saltsburg charged with plotting escape
- Indiana County expects to save more than $2M by refinancing
- Evanko set to retire as Indiana County commissioner at year’s end
- Local painter’s public, private work rediscovered for Blairsville exhibit
- Firefighters respond to blaze in East Wheatfield Township
- Man gets 15 to 30 years in Indiana County walking trail slaying
- Blairsville woman’s quilt captures top prize at Pennsylvania Farm Show
- Smicksburg gains reputation as pottery hotbed