County could see rise in basic education funding

If Pa. budget passes, MCSD could receive $406,000 from state

LEWISTOWN — If the state’s 2017-18 budget passes as it was presented recently by Gov. Tom Wolf, the Mifflin County School District stands to see an increase in basic education funding.

School District Superintendent James Estep told members of the Mifflin County School District Board of Directors Thursday that following a meeting on Wednesday with state Sen. Jake Corman, Estep was told the district would receive an additional $406,000 from the state from its allocation in the current budget year.

“We talked about the state budget,” Estep said during the board’s monthly committee-of-the-whole meeting. “As of now with the governor’s proposal, we would get that.”

However, those numbers don’t look as rosy when transportation reimbursement figures are added in, Estep warned.

“We could see a reduction in the transportation subsidy of $269,000,” he said. “That would still net us a positive bottom line.”

Estep said the remaining $137,000 increase would probably have to be used to pay into the state’s pension fund, which is still underfunded.

On a related note, Chief Fiscal Officer Autumn Fiscus said the state’s new funding formula seems to be hurting local, and mostly rural, school districts the most, especially on the transportation reimbursement. When asked which school districts seem to be making out better under the new formula, Fiscus said Philadelphia, Reading and Allegheny area districts will see the most increases.

That news didn’t sit well with board member Beth Laughlin.

“Once again, rural school districts and their taxpayers are paying for our kids and everyone else’s kids as well,” Laughlin said. “That’s B.S., bottom line.”

Estep concurred, noting, “It looks like they (the state) developed a bipartisan fair funding formula and now it sounds like they’re tweaking it.”

In other business Thursday, the board had a lengthy discussion on a proposed project to install air conditioning and other HVAC work at Lewistown Intermediate School.

During the process of requesting qualifications, some changes in procedures could delay the project until the spring of 2018 so it could be done while school is not in session. No decisions were made Thursday because of possible legal issues involved. It was decided to discuss the issue further in executive session following the meeting’s adjournment.

During the public comment period, Dianne Shearer, president of the Association of Mifflin County Educators, urged the board to act as quickly on the matter as possible to avoid issues cause by heat waves, like the one that occurred at the start of this school year.

“A lot of kids and teachers got sick from that heat,” she said. “If it needs to be delayed, I’m requesting you allow air conditioners and refrigerators in the rooms. It may be expensive but it’s for the health and well-being of our teachers and kids. That third floor is unbearable.”

Also during the public comment period, Taylor Boozel, president of the Mifflin County High School senior class, along with two other members, read a letter to School Board President Terry Styers, who was principal when the kids were attending Strodes Mills Elementary School.

Boozel said it would be an honor if Styers would give the commencement address from the board at graduation ceremonies scheduled for May 25.

Styers gladly accepted, noting, “I could never say no to the three of you.”

Also on Thursday, Fiscus reported on a recent meeting with officials of Kish Bank to see if there were any ways the district could see an increase in interest rates with accounts it has there.

She said a “municipal advantage account” would increase interest depending on the amount of money in the account. Before placing the request on next week’s agenda, Fiscus was told to reach out to other local banks to give them the same opportunity.

Other agenda items scheduled for a vote by the board during its Feb. 23 business meeting include:

¯ Approval of a memorandum of understanding and transportation plan between the district and Mifflin County Children and Youth Services.

¯ Approval to accept the low bid of $32,745 from McClure Mechanical Services for propane tank code corrections at Indian Valley Elementary School.

¯ Approval of a change order to ECI Construction in the amount of $1,106 for alterations to bathroom stall partitions.

¯ Permission to bid fuel oil for 2017-18 and authorize administration to award the bid the day of the bid opening.

¯ Approval for a retroactive pay application to First Capital Insulation Inc. in the amount of $14,907.92.

¯ Consideration of facility use waiver from the Mifflin County Farm Bureau to use the high school auditorium on May 4 for Meet the Candidates Night. Fee waiver is in the amount of $800 (use of auditorium, classroom and sound system). The bureau will still be responsible for an estimated $180 for event staff.

¯ Approval of the following bus drivers: John Hartman, Fisher Brothers; and Jeremy Snyder, J&D’s Inc.

¯ Approval of Beatriz deOliveira Innocencio of Brazil as a foreign exchange student at the high school beginning in August.

¯ Acceptance of the following teacher retirements effective the end of the current school year: Tim Ritter, third grade; Vicki Henry, learning support; Dixie Goss, third grade; Debra Coble, second grade; and Lynn Schulze, learning support.

¯ Acceptance of the retirement of Nancy Snyder, comprehensive child care aide, effective the end of the current school year.

¯ Removal of Jennifer Huffnagle and Pamela Castro from the cafeteria substitute list.

¯ Acceptance of the resignations of the following part-time cafeteria workers: Angela Trego, JoAnn Renninger and Lisa Colpetzer.

¯ The hiring of Bonnie Earnest as a part-time cafeteria worker effective Feb. 24.

¯ Dissolving two three-hour part-time cafeteria positions at the junior high school effective Feb. 24.

¯ Approval of a new job description for the new prep-server dishwasher at the junior high school.

¯ Approval to create a new combined 5.75 hour prep-server-dishwasher position at the junior high school effective Feb. 24.

¯ Dissolving the three-hour part-time cafeteria lunch position at Lewistown Elementary School effective Feb. 24.

¯ Approval of the job description for the new breakfast-lunch cashier position at Lewistown Elementary School.

¯ Approval to create a new combined five-hour breakfast-lunch cashier position at Lewistown Elementary School effective Feb. 24.

¯ Removal of Cale Matthews and Cody Hower from the custodian substitute list.

¯ Approval of a temporary full-time classroom child care aide position at East Derry Elementary School for approximately six weeks.

¯ The hiring of Jessica Smith as junior high assistant volleyball coach for the 2016-17 academic year.

¯ The following coaching reappointments for 2017-18: Chelsea Zook, assistant field hockey; Natalie Faith, head junior high field hockey; Paige Johnson, assistant junior high field hockey; Barrett Knepp, assistant girls soccer; Joab Carter, assistant boys soccer; Jacob Smith, assistant volleyball; and Floyd Ciccolili, assistant track and field.

¯ Approval of the following volunteer coaches for 2016-17: Dakota Macknair and Dexter Hardin, baseball; Craig Johnson, softball; Deanna Russler, Richard Yearick, Shari Miller, Jeff Miller and Jennifer Neavling, cross country; Carolyn Kline, girls soccer; Scott Predix, Alex Leight and Daniel Shoemaker, boys soccer; Steve Hughendubler, tennis; Heather Adams, Jessica Smith and Roy Bucher, volleyball.

¯The addition of Ruth Allison and Stephanie Moon to the event staff.