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NA budget plan calls for more teachers

| Saturday, May 19, 2001

North Allegheny School District officials have nearly finalized their budget for the next school year, making way for the hiring of more than 10 new teachers.

The North Allegheny School Board unanimously voted last week to adopt the preliminary 2001-02 budget. The board is expected to approve the final budget during its meeting at 7:30 p.m. June 20 in the Carson Middle School cafeteria.

Under the proposed $86.7 million budget, the real estate tax rate will be 17.602 mills. Under the millage rate, the owner of a property appraised at $150,000 will pay $2,640 in property taxes to the district next year.

Last year, the district's tax rate was 88.35 mills.

Because of the Allegheny County reassessment, millage is calculated differently. In the past, Allegheny County assessed one quarter of a home's appraised value. Under the new system, a home is assessed at 100 percent of its value.

Under the 88.35 millage rate, the owner of a home appraised at $150,000, and assessed at $37,500, paid $3,313 in property taxes to the district for the 2000-01 school year.

The new budget calls for about $52.8 million to be spent on salaries, $11 million on employee benefits and $3.5 million on supplies during the next school year.

Of the money spent on salaries, $997,012 will go toward new positions, including a curriculum coordinator.

The district also has budgeted for five new full-time secondary teachers, five full-time and one part-time special education teachers, three special education assistants, two clerical employees and three custodians.

The district expects to see an increase of about 2.8 percent in total revenue.

The primary reason for the increase is the real estate tax reassessments and the fact that district officials will move nearly $2.6 million from the fund balance, which is a savings account for the district.

District officials expect revenue from current real estate taxes to bring in about $55 million, which is an increase of 5 percent - the maximum allowable by state law in the year after the county reassessment.

School board members had little to say about the preliminary budget at their Wednesday meeting.

Board member Christine Molnar asked if the money that was expected to be received from the sale of Espe Elementary School was included as revenue in the new budget. The district had planned to sell the property for $700,000, but the sale has yet to be completed.

Superintendent Dennis Barrett said because the sale is not guaranteed, the district is reprioritizing spending to account for the loss.

Roger Botti, the district's transportation manager, said the money was earmarked for repaving the driveway and other paving work on the Marshall campus.

The work has been delayed, Botti said.

Board member Maureen Grosheider asked whether the budget included the $85,000 salary of the proposed curriculum coordinator.

Several months ago, the administration had suggested hiring a person to oversee the district's curriculum. Several board members, including Grosheider, were hesitant about the idea.

Last week, Grosheider said she wanted to learn more about the proposed position before approving it in the final budget.

Barrett said administrators will plan a presentation about the position for June 20, prior to the vote on the final budget.

After Grosheider's comments, Molnar made a motion to remove one of the budget's other new positions - a seventh-grade health coordinator.

No board member seconded her motion.

For the 2000-01 school year, North Allegheny had the 10th lowest millage rate in suburban Allegheny County, meaning that 32 school districts had higher tax rates, school officials said.

Officials said the cost of educating each child in the district this year is $10,203. Thirteen other school districts in suburban Allegheny County spend more to educate each student and 28 districts spent less, school officials said.

Ashley Gerwig can be reached at agerwig@tribweb.com or (724) 779-7112.

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