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Norwin board gets peek at budget; tax hike possible

| Tuesday, Nov. 12, 2013, 12:01 a.m.

Norwin school board members got their first look at the 2014-15 budget, with includes a real estate tax increase in a “worst-case scenario.”

John Wilson, director of business affairs, said he used only very preliminary numbers when he prepared a one-page summary for the board to begin considering at its workshop agenda meeting on Monday.

“I just tried to come up with some of the big-cost items that could impact us this year,” he said.

Salaries could rise 2 percent to 3 percent, or $715,000, depending on staff turnover and other personnel changes, Wilson said.

The current budget year had a 1.3 percent increase in salaries, Wilson said.

Retirement contributions to the state Public School Employees' Retirement System will increase 4.5 percent from this year to next, about a $500,000 increase after state reimbursement subsidies, he said.

For the first time in three years, the district is not required to increase its debt service for the next school year because of bond refunding in 2011, the business director said.

Wilson said that the board could increase property taxes no more than 1.85 mills, for a total of 70.95 mills.

If the highest tax increase is approved, that would generate about $685,000 in additional revenue, Wilson said.

The assessed value of property in the school district is up 1.25 percent, or about a $285,000 increase in tax revenue, he said.

State revenues likely will remain flat, Wilson said.

Instead of an accelerated budgeting process, the business director said he recommends following the traditional time line, passing a preliminary budget in May and final budget in June.

In other business, Tracy McNelly, assistant superintendent of secondary education, gave an overview of changes in the high school course of studies, including the addition of an exercise physiology class.

She reported changes including: shortening a robotics and computer programming class; changing requirements for AP environmental science; allowing students in applied science eligibility for a scientific research and scientific method class; eliminating certain family and consumer science courses because of staff changes; discontinuing classes associated with Pennsylvania System of School Assessment test enrichment; and adjusting GPA requirements for students moving from algebra I to algebra II from 60 percent to 70 percent.

Stacey Federoff is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-836-6660 or sfederoff@tribweb.com.

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