2010-07-01 / Front Page

Southern Fulton Bumps Property Taxes .63 Mills

Bids farewell to Superintendent Ralph Scott
By Chanin Rotz-Mountz STAFF WRITER

Southern Fulton School Board took final action last Tuesday night to raise real estate taxes to a new rate of 23.13 mills, which represents an overall .63 mill increase for district property owners.

The motion to set the expenditures and revenue for the 2010-11 school year at $11,677,426 and accompanying tax rates was proposed by board members Dwight Bard and Timothy Mellott. The motion was accepted on a 7-2 rollcall vote, with board members Danny Crouse and Donald Whiteside dissenting.

Under questioning by a fellow board member, Crouse said he was not in favor of the millage hike and felt the district could “shave more money off the budget.” In comparison, Whiteside had previously proposed an even higher tax increase than the .63 mill increase that was adopted.

In addition to establishing the new real estate tax rate, the board also opted to leave per-capita taxes under Act 679 and 511 at their current rate of $5. Earned-income and real-estate transfer taxes at their current rate of 1 percent, and penalties are at the maximum rate of 10 percent.

Under other financial issues addressed on June 22, the board approved the Strickler Agency to serve as its insurance carrier for a variety of policies, including commercial, worker’s compensation, educator’s legal liability and auto. The premium for the 2010-11 school year will total $62,738, which represents a $1,131 increase.

A proposal in an amount not to exceed $2,000 was accepted on an 8-1 roll-call vote as submitted by Sigel’s Excavating. Board member Allen Morton voted against the proposal for Sigel’s to relocate an access road and an impacted fence at the elementary.

Board member Crouse questioned payment and budget issues regarding the district’s vocational agriculture instructor. Crouse was informed the teacher is eligible to receive up to $10,000 for working an additional 50 days, but the salary is based directly on the number of hours logged. Hours logged are checked off by the district in seven-hour increments.

Superintendent Ralph Scott added even though a figure of $10,000 is included in the budget that does not guarantee the instructor receives the full amount.

Personnel

Doctors Tara Scheck and Phillip Breen and/or Tri-State Community Heath Center were given a nod of approval to perform student physicals at a rate of $8 per student during the upcoming school year.

Letters of resignations were accepted from game manager and junior high softball assistant coach Melissa Barton; junior high girls basketball assistant coach Amy Fischer; and assistant track coach Mark Lund.

As recommended by the district’s athletic director, Candace Bard was hired to fill the position of junior high volleyball coach for 2010-11. Board member Dwight Bard refrained from voting on the appointment.

In addition, Joe Hollenshead was approved to continue in the capacity of cross-country coach and Stacy Smith as junior varsity volleyball coach. While the recommendations of the athletic director were accepted unanimously, the board did conduct a lengthy discussion regarding whether the position of cross-country coach is deemed a varsity job and if payment of duties should fall under a varsity or junior varsity pay scale.

Board members Allen Morton and Patrick Bard both touched on the fact that when the position and team sport were established, a certain amount of money was set aside as salary. Bard added the current contract for the position is more than what was originally set aside.

The group concluded Hollenshead has done a good job with the team, and a determination will be made on salary during the ongoing negotiations for extracurricular salaries.

Citing personal issues as her reason for departure, high school English teacher Valerie White submitted a letter of resignation retroactive to June 8. The board granted the administration permission to advertise this position.

First-grade teacher Leslie Gates is slated to undergo a leave of absence under the Family Medical Leave Act of 1993 beginning August 19 and ending October 15.

Pending the completion of paperwork, substitute teachers during 2010-11 currently include Bradly Truax, Rachel Leese, Garrett Fix, Aaron Harris and Karen Varney. Meanwhile, Cheryl Hanks was approved to serve as a cafeteria substitute as well as a teacher aide substitute along with Teressa Payne.

Past and present board members and district office staff “roasted” outgoing Superintendent Scott prior to the meeting getting under way. On hand were former board members Richard Mosemann, Ed Yates and William Whiteside as well as former staff members Doris Bain and LuAnne Keebaugh. Board President Kenny Wuertenberg presented Scott with a plaque for his eight years of exemplary service.

Building and grounds

The Southern Fulton girls basketball team will be utilizing the elementary gymnasium 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. daily from July 6 through July 9 to conduct a basketball camp. A junior high volleyball camp will be held from June 28 through June 30 in the elementary gym by the junior high volleyball squad.

In addition, recreational basketball will be organized by the junior high boys basketball team in the elementary gym from June 1 through July 30.

Elementary Principal and Assistant to the Superintendent Kendra Trail reported the district’s architects were slated to begin their feasibility report this week.

Curriculum

Trail went on to discuss preliminary PSSA testing results that show only one third grade student was unable to achieve an advanced or proficient ranking in math. Trail added an area of weakness at the elementary facility could be reading comprehension, while science, writing and math scores are staying level.

High school Principal Meredith Hendershot also touched on PSSA results for her facility, which included an increase in all tested areas for students enrolled in 11th grade. “For the most part everyone did really well this year. Once modified scores are added in, we should be sitting pretty good,” she concluded.

Lucas Coleman is slated to receive his Southern Fulton High School diploma for completing the course requirements stated in the Diploma Recovery Program. Coleman is the second individual this year to complete the program, and nine additional individuals are currently enrolled.

Policy

The second reading of multiple policies was approved by the board. The policies involve charter school programs, pupil health examinations and screenings, food service operations and free/reduced meals and milk. A first reading of a policy delving into class size for programs was also accepted as presented.

Public comment

Former board member Yates announced to the board he has been approached by several district staff members with questions regarding payroll matters. Yates stated some of the issues included not receiving checks on time, direct deposit and being unable to decipher pay vouchers.

The superintendent noted one snafu was addressed and there have not been any incidents since that time. Board President Wuertenberg confirmed he forgot to come to the school and sign checks once, which led to the checks being distributed late.

The board also touched on direct deposit, which was reportedly recommended to employees but not made mandatory.

Yates was told to have employees discuss any further issues with Trail or business manager Deb Schetrompf.

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