COAL TOWNSHIP — Shamokin Area School Board unanimously approved a $32.7 million tentative general fund budget for 2018-2019 Tuesday night that calls for a tax increase of 1.14 mills.
The millage increase, which establishes a new rate of 32.09 mills, is the maximum allowed under the Act 1 index of 3.7 percent.
The budget is approximately $1.1 million more than the current spending plan and reflects increases of 8.9 percent in healthcare and .86 percent in retirement contributions.
Business manager/federal programs coordinator Karen Colangelo presented a thorough review of the spending plan that includes local revenue sources of $6,645,975, state revenue of $19,756,806, federal revenue of $1,047,539, and other revenue of $5,299,219.
Colangelo, who noted the district has a usual tax collection rate of 85 percent, said the value of one gross mill is $115,092.62, while one net mill totals $97,828.74.
She said expenditures, which increased 3.62 percent over the 2017-2018 budget, include salaries, benefits, professional services, repairs/maintenance services, purchased services/tuition, general supplies/books and equipment.
Colangelo said the district eliminated $1.3 million in a rental/lease agreement and costs for regular and special education services when Northwestern Academy closed in May 2016, but also lost revenue from tuition costs assessed to other school districts.
Since contract negotiations are continuing with Shamokin Area Education Association and AFSCME, Colangelo said it’s difficult to predict what teacher salaries and benefits will be in the future. She said the contract expires June 30.
“Every year brings uncertainty and new challenges that may impact our fiscal future,” she said. “We need to continue to be fiscally responsible and make the best decision on the facts available at the time.”
Voting to approve the tentative budget were board President Jeff Kashner, Robert Getchey, Charles Shuey, Kris Anderson, Laura Scandle, Melissa Hovenstine, Edward Griffiths, Steve Cook and Brian Persing.
The proposed budget will be available for public inspection for 30 days and is expected to receive final adoption at the June board meeting.
The board elected Shuey as board treasurer at a salary of $2,700 per year with a bond set at $20,000.
Directors accepted a bid from Blue Ridge Excavating and Hauling to complete a paving project at a total cost not to exceed $50,000 paid through capital funds.
The board approved June 13 as a snow makeup day for April 2.
Directors unanimously voted in favor of an elementary summer reading camp that will provide intensive early reading intervention to students in kindergarten and first grade. The program, which will be limited to 25 students, is scheduled to be held from 9 to 11 a.m. Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays, beginning June 26.
Permission was granted by the board to advertise for two certified teachers for the reading camp who will be paid $18.50 per hour.
On an 8-1 vote, the board approved the Northumberland County Career and Technology Center’s budget for 2018-2019 in the amount of $2,225,062, with the district’s share being $1,021.789.
Getchey, who cast the lone dissenting vote, said he believes $1 million is a lot of money for the district to pay to send students to the career and technology center and asked Superintendent James Zack to provide him with enrollment figures for the school next month.
The board donated a 2000 Chevrolet 4×4 pickup truck to the Shamokin-Coal Township Community Youth Service Program. Griffiths voted against the donation because he said the board previously voted to donate two used trucks, including the 4×4 pickup truck, to the high school band.
The board accepted the resignation of varsity wrestling cheer coach Tammy Rhodes and approved the coaching/adviser salary schedule for the 2018-2019 school year.
At the end of the meeting, Getchey commended Zack for making sure all students were safe before being dismissing them later than normal Tuesday due to a severe thunderstorm that hit the area.
Zack commended the staff for staying with the students after school due to the bad weather. “It worked out and everyone got home safely,” he said.