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Board to soon vote on district superintendent

MCSD budget among items slated for voting meeting

LEWISTOWN – A new superintendent may be approved for Mifflin County School District next week.

Among items up for approval during the voting meeting on Thursday, June 24, is the appointment of Vance Varner as superintendent of schools, effective Sept. 11.

The board of directors met Thursday to hold its regular committee of the whole meeting.

If approved, Varner would take a position currently held be James Estep.

Varner currently serves as the district’s chief operations officer.

If approved, Varner’s salary will be $135,000 and his contract will run through Sept. 10, 2024.

Among other items on the agenda, the board will vote on the 2021-22 general fund budget that is projected to show no tax increase.

The budget shows a real estate tax of 34.5215 mills for the fiscal year 2021-22 upon assessed value of all real estate within the district.

That comes to a rate of $34.5215 on each $1,000 of the assessed value of the property.

The budget also includes a $5 tax on each resident over 18, a $10 flat rate local services tax, a 1 percent real estate transfer tax and a 1.35 percent earned income tax.

The board will also vote on the 2021 Homestead/Farmstead Exclusion Resolution.

Also during the meeting, current Superintendent James Estep proposed restoring a position for an assistant over custodial staff.

Estep said he felt Tom White, director of buildings and grounds, would be able to continue to save the district money, adding that the new assistant could help ensure operations run more efficiently.

“Tom has already saved us a lot of money and he has described at least four to six things that — if he had the time freed up to do them — could save us possible in the hundreds of thousands of dollars in the near future,” Estep said. “The problem is that he is trying to be everywhere at all times, day and night, and he’s just one person.”

Estep said the district had an assistant position in the past, but that it didn’t work.

“I’m not saying it couldn’t have worked, I’m just saying it wasn’t working the way the former directors were making it work,” he said. “Based on what I have seen Tom do with employees who weren’t pulling their weight so far, i believe Tom would make it work.”

Estep said the position could be covered by Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Fund next year and could be covered with funds that White is saving the district after that.

Also during the meeting, the board discussed a charter school reform that would have affected charter school reimbursements.

Through correspondence with Sen. Jake Corman’s office, Estep said he learned that the deal was pulled.

Estep said if the bill were approved as written, the state would only cover $200,000 of Mifflin County School District’s $4.2 million.

“The taxpayers would have been on the hook for the other $4 million,” he said.

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