MCSD Board to vote on proposed budget

LEWISTOWN – The Mifflin County School District Board of Directors will vote on the 2014-15 General Fund Budget during its regular monthly business meeting next Thursday.

During a workshop meeting on Thursday, Superintendent James Estep reported that the spending plan he presented during a May 1 budget meeting is the one that will be offered on May 22.

“This is a big item,” he stressed. “We’ve had multiple budget meetings to discuss how we arrived at the recommendation. Tonight I need to know if we can proceed with what we proposed. If not, we can’t afford to be blindsided next week. Is there a need for another (budget) meeting on Monday night?”

No members of the board responded to Estep’s request for another budget session.

The general fund budget totals $70,489,385 which includes a real estate tax increase of 2.4992 mills, which represents a hike of 8.1 percent. During the May 1 budget meeting, Chief Financial Officer Sean Daubert noted that 8.1 percent works out to an increase of $92.64 per taxable parcel.

In other business Thursday, the board heard several presentations, including an update on the fledgling Alpha and Mifflin County Online programs, which provide alternate means of education in an effort to retain more students who would otherwise attend cyber schools or drop out of school altogether.

As of Thursday, a total of 185 kids from grades 6-12 are participating in the Alpha Program while 17 are in the Mifflin County Online program. Both offer a combination of online and “brick and mortar” instruction and participants are eligible to take part in all regular school extra curricular activities and seniors who are successful will be allowed to graduate next month with the other kids attending Mifflin County High School.

In other business, on a positive note, the board heard a short presentation from Rob Strickland, a representative of Reynolds Energy Services, which evaluated the cost savings attained by the district since the installation of new boilers and HVAC equipment at the Indian Valley Elementary School.

Strickland said the boiler is now propane gas-based, which saved the district considerable money through the first quarter of the year.

“Previously, you spent $116,690 (on energy),” Strickland reported. “This year you actually spent $54,105, which represents a savings of $62,585. That was good but next year I think it will be significantly better. I think it’s (the savings) everything we thought it would be.”

Another presentation was given by Jerry Myers of Reynolds Construction, project manager for the IVES and Mifflin County Junior High School projects. At the elementary level, Myers said the contract work is basically coming to an end. He said a basketball court was paved last week and fencing will be installed next week. All that remains are additional upgrades to restrooms and windows, items the board voted to accept more recently.

At the junior high school, Myers and Estep noted a problem that is occurring with the soil near the building’s front door that could cost up to $50,000 to correct. Myers said the soil is too soft and needs to be dug out to a depth of two feet and have stones added before paving it for a parking lot that will eventually be used as visitor parking in front of the school. Estep reminded the board that the project received more than $24,000 in credits last month and the contingency plan built into the project can easily handle the expected increase.

“Things are moving very quickly now,” Myers said. “The kitchen is demolished and some big deliveries are coming up, including the boiler and HVAC equipment. Those pieces will be in place for install once school lets out.”

Another issue involving a aging piece of equipment at the Lewistown Elementary School was also the topic of discussion. Dallas Stahlman, director of buildings and grounds, reported the chiller located on the building’s roof is in terrible shape and rather than putting what he estimates roughly $50,000 toward repairing it, he recommends looking for prices to replace the unit. He estimated the cost to be in the $140,000 to $145,000 range and Estep said should the board wish to move forward, money is available in the district’s capital improvement fund.

Other agenda items to be considered during the board’s May 22 voting meeting include:

A request from Big Valley Invitational organizers to waive the fee of $25 for use of fields at Indian Valley Elementary School for the annual cross country race on Aug. 30.

A request from the Juniata Valley Football League to waive the fee of $1,000 for the use of Mitchell Field for their annual youth football bowl games and Super Bowl games to be held in October. The league would still be required to pay the $1,065 for custodial and event staff fees.

The deletion of Kirk Sheeder from the custodial substitute list effective May 7.

The resignation of Arlene Simparosa as a part-time cafeteria worker effective April 29.

The hiring of Trish Harpster as a part-time cafeteria worker at Lewistown Intermediate School effective May 6.

The hiring of the following part-time custodians effective May 15: Andrew Stroup, Nicholas Carolus, Timothy Haigh and Timothy Carolus.

Approval of Sherry Jo Wagner as a substitute van driver.

The resignation of Lisa Rheam, learning support teacher at the junior high school, effective at the end of the current school year for personal reasons.

The following deletions from the substitute teacher list: Rachel Boyd, LaMar Fetterman and Lucinda North.

A recommendation to approve the following curriculum coordinators for next school year: Jennifer Macknair, secondary language arts; Clint Aurand, secondary mathematics; Nathan King, secondary science; and Alan Miller, districtwide English as a second language.

The following additions to the substitute teacher list: Courtney Bell, Jennifer Evanitsky, Billi Goss, Marihelen Hower and Tiffany Mistretta.

Approval of the following coaches for the 2014-15 school year: Kierstin Walker, assistant cheerleading; Jennifer Johnson, junior high cheerleading; Chelsea Zook, first assistant field hockey; Allan Hepner, first assistant football; Charles Douglas, assistant football; Brian Heckert, assistant football; Steven Himes, assistant football; Lewis Yoder, assistant football; Joseph Eckenroth, head junior high football; Christian Hassinger, assistant junior high football; William Snook, assistant junior high football; Joab Carter, first assistant boys soccer; Alan Miller, junior high boys soccer; Jeremy Herwig, first assistant girls soccer; Carolyn Kline, junior high girls soccer; Jessica Smith, first assistant volleyball; and Andrea Appel, head junior high volleyball.