2010-06-17 / Front Page

Forbes Road Hikes Taxes 1.4 Mills

Accepts resignation of Byron Helsel
By Jean Snyder STAFF WRITER

The Forbes Road school board adopted a final 2010-11 budget last Monday evening and set taxes that include a 1.4 mill property tax increase. The general fund budget agreed upon sets spending at $7,387,291 and revenue at $6,943,630. The shortfall of $443,661 will come from the general fund in order to balance the budget.

The motion to adopt the budget was made by Deonna Carmack and seconded by Karen Peffer. The motion passed with two dissenting votes from Chanin Rotz-Mountz and Kirby Shoemaker. The budget reflected increases in healthcare, retirement and dental benefits that amounted to about $410,000.

Property taxes were set at 35.042 mills, a 1.4 mill increase over last year’s millage rate of 33.63. Property taxes were increased by one mill last year. Other taxes set remain the same with wage tax at 1 percent, real estate transfer tax at 1 percent, occupation tax at $10 and per capita at $5. Three board members, Mountz, Shoemaker and Debbie Strait dissented on the 6-3 tax-setting vote.

The final 2010-11 budget adopted sets expenditures lower than the previous year’s budget of $7,615,298. Also during Monday night’s meeting, the board accepted with regret the resignation of Byron Helsel. Helsel served as the elementary school principal, a title he held until last year when his title was changed to director of elementary education and coordinator of both the special education program and Title funding and curriculum. That move came after Helsel submitted a letter of resignation last June. Although the new title was assigned, his duties as elementary school principal remained unchanged.

Aside from a stint at the Juniata Valley School District, Helsel has spent his entire teaching and administrative career at Forbes Road.

Following the acceptance of Helsel’s resignation, the board accepted the resignation of Helman Busing effective July 1, 2010, and awarded the previously owned busing contract to Byron Helsel.

In other personnel matters, the board voted to approve acting superintendent Fred Foster as superintendent on a three-year contract effective July 1, 2010, at a starting salary of $85,000. One board member dissented on the 8-1 vote.

Also on the personnel agenda, board members retained Deb Messner, nurse practitioner, to conduct school physicals at $7 per hour, and Dr. Jamie Hall was retained as school dentist, who offered his service free of charge for the 2010-11 school year.

The board hired Ryan Wade at $32,250 to fill the music/choral position, which includes band, chorus and music. The resignation of vocational teacher Eric Rubenstein was accepted the last day of the 2009-10 school year.

Also during the personnel discussion, the board voted to approve a compressed work week policy during the summer for all 12-month employees. Those employees will eliminate Fridays during summer as a way to reduce energy costs.

As reported in last week’s “News,” the board did not approve the Labor Relations Board fact-finder’s report. There was a motion and a second to approve it, and the motion failed on a 0-9 vote. The board and the teachers’ union must return to negotiations.

In other financial discussion, the board voted for Option 1 to adopt the resolution to divide the aggregate amount for real estate tax reduction of $181,397.22. The other option was to opt out. Option 1 passed on a 7- 2 vote with Debbie Strait and Deonna Carmack dissenting. The approval of that motion was followed up with another motion for property-tax allocation of the funds to those taxpayers that qualify for the homestead/ farmstead reduction. The reduction amounts to approximately $193 per parcel. That motion for a resolution was also approved on a 7-2 vote.

On the miscellaneous agenda, the board approved requests for the use of school property, including: a request from Craig Cutchall and Robin Feight for a back-to-school prayer night on August 24, and also the board approved the use of the auditorium on Tuesday mornings for prayer meetings from 7:30-7:45 a.m.; the use of the music room for summer piano lessons on Wednesday mornings; use of the gym and weight room for girls and boys basketball programs during the summer months; use of auditorium and cafeteria by Hustontown Volunteer Fire Co. on September 18 for a concert by Jeff Kruck; use of facilities for a faculty art club during the summer months; and approved a request by Lisa Black to pursue a summer arts camp in the artroom on June 17, 24 and 25; and the board tabled a request for elementary cheerleading.

During a general information session, board members were informed that summer cleaning of the schools is on schedule and that bleachers will be installed in July. Also it was announced that 19 Redbirds have been enrolled to date.

The board voted 8-1 to approve elementary and high school student handbook revisions as presented.

The board voted to pursue the “Active School Grant” in the amount of $15,000 to help promote health, nutrition and an active lifestyle to grades K-6.

The board also held a 15- minute executive session to discuss personnel matters.

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