LEWISTOWN - The Mifflin County School District is inching closer to achieving a 2013-14 budget without instituting a tax increase.
During a committee-of-the-whole meeting on Thursday, Sean Daubert, the district's chief financial officer, presented a tentative spending plan that would not include a tax increase for next year. The board will vote on the tentative $67,255,515 general fund budget that holds the line on taxes during its monthly business meeting on May 23. Daubert said the operating budget totals $62,434,983. The larger general fund budget includes federal program grants, accountability block grant funds and other program budgets.
"This budget does not have a tax increase," Daubert said. "The millage is the same (as this year)."
Superintendent James Estep, prior to Daubert's budget presentation, shared an article he read recently that indicated the State College Area School District has been planning its budgets further out than one year increments in an effort to stay ahead of any unforseen obstacles that could arise financially, something Daubert says he has also done for the local school district.
He noted the tentative Mifflin County budget does not include a tax hike, but warned that the district's budgetary reserve is quite low and the district does face increased debt service with building renovation projects that are ongoing and others in the works for the future.
"This budget shows no (tax) increase," Estep conceded. "With regard to the reserve fund, I am concerned about it being so low that if we run into tough times we'll have very little to fall back on. With taking on an increased debt service, we'll be OK (for this next budget year) but we'd probably have to raise taxes next year to take on that debt service."
On a related matter, during the public comment period, local resident Richard Smeltz had something to say.
"With regard to the budget and taxes, I hear from a lot of older people who are on fixed incomes," he said. "Since 2005, you have raised taxes 50 percent on these people. It's tough on them. I'm asking you to take that into consideration. I understand how the funding from the state works and I know where you're coming from with that. I'm just asking that you hold the line on taxes and let next year's board deal with the budget."
Board President Walter Harpster again thanked Daubert and the rest of the administrative staff for presenting a budget that does not include a tax hike.
"I think the citizens deserve it," he noted. "We've had to raise taxes the last few years to deal with a lot of issues. It's nice to not have a tax increase this year."
In other business Thursday, Jerry Myers, representing Reynolds Construction, the firm overseeing the renovation project currently under way at the Indian Valley Elementary Center, was on hand to give the board an update on the progress of a project that is operating under strict timelines, as most of the work will need to be completed over the summer.
"The contracts were issued in February and things are well under way," Myers noted. "A lot of demolition has already taken place. The boiler is out. Roofing work is under way."
Myers said much of the work will have to take place during the summer recess. He also presented some projected change orders that he said he will try to have ready for board approval at the May 23 voting session.
In other business Thursday, the board discussed the following agenda items to be voted on during its May 23 business meeting:
A recommendation to hire former Indian Valley girls basketball coach Roger Herto to take over the reins of the Mifflin County High School girls basketball team next year. If hired, Herto would replace Kevin Kodish, who coached Lewistown/Mifflin County girls basketball for 29 years before submitting his resignation last month. Vance Varner, director of secondary education, said the district conducted a statewide search for the open position and it was the recommendation of Principal Mark Crosson and Athletic Director Matt Shoemaker to hire Herto for the job.
A recommendation to hire the following assistant coaches for the 2013-14 school year: Kierstin Walker, assistant cheerleading; Jessica Geissinger, junior high cheerleading; Seth Yearick, assistant cross country; Ashley Suydam, first assistant field hockey; Allan Hepner, first assistant football; Steven Himes, assistant football; Brian Heckert, assistant football; Charles Douglas, assistant football; Lewis Yoder, assistant football; Joseph Eckenroth, head junior high football; Christian Hassinger, assistant junior high football; Richard Bender Jr., 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; Steven DeArment, first assistant boys basketball; Mark Beck, head ninth grade boys basketball; Raymond Klinger, assistant seventh grade boys basketball; L. Dale Searer, first assistant wrestling; Joseph Eckenroth, assistant wrestling; William Shafranich, head junior high wrestling; Justin Shafranich, assistant junior high wrestling; David Wray, assistant junior high wrestling; Scot Sechler, assistant winter track; Kierstin Walker, assistant winter cheerleading; and Jessica Geissinger, junior high winter cheerleading.
A recommendation to approve Cramer Paving to complete the cul-de-sac project at Strodes Mills Elementary School at a low bid of $37,600.
A recommendation to hire Jamie Fisher as a temporary custodian at Mifflin County High School effective April 29.
A recommendation to delete William Gillespie from the custodial substitute list.
A recommendation to hire Dana Shank to the permanent 1.5 hour breakfast position at Mifflin County High School.
A recommendation to hire Debra A. Yingling to the temporary 1.25 hour breakfast position at Lewistown Intermediate School.
The resignation of Ardeth Henry, cafeteria worker at East Derry Elementary School, effective May 10.
Approval of Dane Spriggle, O.D. to provide mandated vision exams for Life Skills students for the 2013-14 school year at a cost of $12 per student.
Approval of Dr. Arthur Hayes to provide mandated student physical exams for kindergarten, grade 6 and grade 11 students next school year at a cost of $12 per student.
Approval of the resignation of Jillian Kochenderfer, first grade teacher at Lewistown Elementary School, effective the end of the current school year, for personal reasons.
Approval of the resignation of Jessica Filson, art and music teacher at Indian Valley Elementary Center and Union Elementary School, effective June 30, due to relocation.
A recommendation to approve Barbie Bender as a driver for C.H. Fisher Inc.
A recommendation to hire Kathleen Daulton as the temporary school nurse at Mifflin County Junior High School for the 2013-14 school year or less.
A recommendation to accept the voluntary resignation of Adam Barger due to the declination of a job offer effective April 30.
A recommendation to hire Amy Hart as a math teacher at the high school effective the start of next school year.
A recommendation to add the following to the substitute teacher list: Sierra Chesney, elementary certification; Cindy Brown, elementary certification; Amber Owen, elementary certification; Kierstin Walker, elementary certification; and Christian Knouse, mathematics 7-12 certification.