Derry Area School Board eyes 2.8-mill tax hike
Kevin Liberoni was the sole school board member to vote against Derry Area School District’s tentative 2019-20 budget of just under $37.7 million, citing opposition to a proposal to raise property taxes to 90.6 mills.
That 2.8-mill hike would cost the average residential property owner an additional $34.16.
“Somebody has to stick up for the taxpayers,” Liberoni said at Thursday’s board meeting.
Expenditures are set to increase by 3.2%, driven primarily by rising costs for special education, teacher retirement benefits, transportation and local students who attend independent cyber charter schools, according to Joe Koluder, administrative assistant for business affairs.
To bridge an expected revenue gap, the district plans to dip into its reserve account for $1.4 million, out of nearly $3.4 million it expects to have in that fund to start the new fiscal year.
School board President Dave Krinock said the district recently has chipped away at its fund balance, which stood at $5 million in 2014-15. He noted that’s “not a prudent fiscal option for continued balancing of the budget. On the current path, it will be only a matter of years until these funds are depleted.”
Koluder said the district could balance its budget without a tax increase if lawmakers in Harrisburg would adopt legislation that makes parents liable for tuition when they enroll their student in an outside cyber charter school — if one is provided by the local public school district, as is the case with Derry Area.
Derry Area said it costs $3,500 per year to educate a student through its own cyber school — compared to $12,180 for a regular student attending an outside cyber school and $24,872 for a special education student.
Jeff Himler is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Jeff at 724-836-6622, [email protected] or via Twitter .