North Allegheny school board OKs technology plan, tax increase
The North Allegheny School District's plan to give every first- through 12th-grader an iPad or laptop over four years will be helped by a tax increase approved Wednesday.
The school board voted 6-3 to approve a $143.6 million budget for 2015-16 that factored in a tax rate increase — from 17.4039 mills to 18.0011 mills — that will help fund the technology plan. School board members Libby Blackburn, Maureen M. Grosheider and Thomas C. Schwartzmier voted against the budget.
Some school board members said that while they favored the technology plan, the district needed more detailed and earlier planning for future budgets because of projected deficits.
“I'm struggling with this budget. I'm not very happy with it,” school board member Joseph Greenberg said. He said an estimated $3.8 million deficit was projected for the 2016-17 school year.
Other costs affecting the district's expenses include state-mandated, increasing contributions to the Public School Employees Retirement System.
The school board took the decision to raise taxes seriously, said board President Tara Fisher, who agreed that more analysis is needed for future budgets to balance students' needs and taxpayers' concerns.
The board approved a financing package from Laurel Capital Corp. for $2.4 million over four years to buy laptops, iPads and other supplies for the technology plan.
Sixth-, ninth- and 10th-graders will receive electronic devices in the program's first year. Other grades will be added in successive years.
With the new tax rate, district taxes on a house assessed at $182,900, the median value in McCandless, will be $3,292. Taxes on a house assessed at $258,600, the median value in Franklin Park, will be $4,655.
Tory N. Parrish is a staff writer for Trib Total Media.