Juniata County School Board approves preliminary budget

MIFFLINTOWN – A preliminary budget has been approved by the Juniata County School Board of Directors.

A period of heavy snow last week postponed a Thursday meeting to Tuesday evening at Fermanagh-Mifflintown Elementary School in Mifflintown. There, the board approved a tentative budget of $33,195,026 for the 2014-2015 school year, with a proposed real estate tax of 58.829 mills, a per capita tax of $5, a residence tax of $5, a rate occupation tax of $10, a 1 percent real estate transfer tax, a 1 percent earned income tax and a 5 percent amusement tax. Taxes are effective July 1 and subject to final board approval in June 2014.

Business manager Richard Meily said the preliminary budget represents a tax increase of 1.37 mills.

Also during the meeting, Director Ray Page expressed strong opposition to what he perceived as a recent miscommunication between a fellow director and Principal Andrew Kinzer, of Monroe Elementary School. Page said a school director visited the school to sit in on classes and was handed a visitor’s policy document.

Page said, as the governing body of the school district, directors should be able to visit the school at any time.

“We’re the people who hire ya, fire ya you want to say we can’t come into a school?” he said.

Kinzer, who was present at the meeting said the parent and visitor’s policy was set in place by the school board. His understanding, he said, was that the policy applied to any member of the public who wished to enter the school. His intent was not to deny access, he said, but to uphold the measures meant to ensure the safety of students. Kinzer emphasized that he welcomes visitors to the school, including board members.

“All I did was follow the policy I was told to uphold,” he said.

Director Amy Wagner commended Kinzer’s effort.

“Mr. Page does not speak for all of us,” she urged. “Just because we’re governing doesn’t mean we’re exempt.”

Finally, the board discussed the possible purchase of 260 specialized telephones with power adapters to be installed in every classroom in the district. Superintendent Richard Musselman said East Juniata High School currently is the only school capable of two-way communication between classrooms and the school office. Other school buildings lack communication throughout the schools, which is a safety concern that has been discussed at several consecutive board meetings.

A motion on Tuesday’s agenda recommended 260 673li IP Aastra telephones from GovConnection Inc., at a cost of $26,390. Before the board took action on the proposal, several directors asked to table the vote to a later meeting. They cited concerns over whether the phones would meet all needs of administration and faculty. The motion was tabled and will be revisited at Thursday’s meeting.

In other new business, the board:

Approved amending an agreement with Edmentum for Study Island to be upgraded at all buildings. This will allow the district to better meet students’ needs by targeting focus areas identified by MAP scores. Currently, Study Island users at the middle school can access only sixth- to eighth- grade material, and high school students can access only material above the eighth-grade level.

Approved financial reports for January 2014 and bills for payment.

Approved the JCSD’s participation in the Pennsylvania Local Government Investment Trust.

Approved a list of taxpayers exonerated from paying 2013 per capita taxes.

Approved Frederick Longenecker and John Musser as contracted school bus drivers.

Approved homebound instruction of a Juniata High School student.

Approved the employment of Kimberly A. Dressler as a Level 1 paraprofessional at Tuscarora Junior High School, effective Feb. 19.

Approved the employment of Brenda M. Jones as a Level 1 paraprofessional at Fayette Elementary School, effective Feb. 19.

Approved the employment of Darcie L. Crock as a Level 1 paraprofessional at Mountain View Elementary School, effective Feb. 19.

Approved the employment of Katelyn M. Alderfer as a learning support teacher at East Juniata High School.

Approved Jenna R. Clayton as a substitute teacher, Sarah A. Stiver as a substitute teacher and substitute paraprofessional and Tammy J. Martin as a substitute secretary.

The next meeting of the Juniata County School District Board of Directors is scheduled for Feb. 20 at Fermanagh-Mifflintown Elementary School. The time of the meeting was not announced as of press time Tuesday evening. The board typically meets at 8 p.m.