2011-06-23 / Front Page

Central Fulton Property Taxes To Increase .9996 Mill

Additional budget cuts made to reduce deficit
By Chanin Rotz-Mountz
STAFF WRITER

Finding themselves in the same financial predicament as other schools across the commonwealth, the Central Fulton School District announced last Tuesday it was implementing additional cost-saving measures to help reduce a sizeable deficit.

Gary Shives, a member of the school board’s Budget and Finance Committee, reported the district was facing nearly a $1.5 million deficit heading into the 2011-12 school year. The deficit, according to to Shives, stems primarily from large cuts made at the state level during the last year.

In order to help balance its $12,452,688 budget, Shives and fellow board member Dr. Brent Carlson proposed a total of 11 measures that were in turn unanimously approved on a 8-0 roll-call vote. Board member Hollie Garlock was only on hand for a portion of the June 14 meeting and was not available when the topic of finances was brought to light.

Those actions enacted by the board are:

 Reducing all aides from fulltime to part-time without benefits (estimated savings of $261,000)

 Reducing health insurance to single coverage only for maintenance employees (estimated savings of $24,000)

 Reducing health insurance to single coverage for school secretaries (estimated savings of $82,000)

 Changing the district’s alternative education placement provider from Extended Families (estimated savings of $70,000)

 Eliminating a math tutor position half salary (estimated savings of $9,750)

 Moving all extracurricular salaries to step one (estimated savings of $15,000)

 Eliminating the district’s technology coordinator position (estimated savings of $45,000)

 Reducing the costs associated with substitutes (estimated savings of $25,000)

 Giving the online coordinator duties to another staff member and not filling the open position (estimated savings of $60,000)

 Hiring of two-full-time teachers, one long-term substitute teacher and restructure the district’s staff to absorb the 10 vacancies created by the retirement of 13 teachers.

 Turn the maintenance/custodial operations over to Metz and Associates Ltd., which currently oversees the cafeteria staff. Custodians eliminated as of June 30, 2011, are Richard Crouse, Rhonda Grissinger, Jeffrey Deshong, Christopher Martz, Lorraine Mellott, N. Curtis Mellott, Sandra Myers, Justin Schooley and Dwight Schooley. All of the affected individuals will be given an opportunity to apply for custodial positions through Metz.

Estimated savings through this measure have been calculated at $87,250.

In speaking further on allowing Metz to handle the district’s maintenance, Shives indicated the board will reimburse the employees for any unused sick days. They also offered to honor a retirement incentive for any members of the maintenance staff wishing to take an early retirement.

As a follow-up to its approved budget reduction strategies, the board also chose to cut its budget gap by raising real estate taxes by .9996 mill. The tax increase will bring the local millage rate to 27.8810 mills for the 2011-12 fiscal year. The rate will therefore be $2.78810 on each $100 of assessed valuation of taxable property.

As the lone board member opposed to a tax increase, Ryan Richards told the “News” he agreed with the cuts made by the board, but he did not feel they were evenly distributed. “If they were, I don’t think they would have had to raise taxes to the extent they did,” said Richards, who added that when looking at the tax rate in combination with the local unemployment rate the decision should have been made to keep taxes level.

Act 511 taxes unchanged, but set in accordance with the 2011- 12 budget, are real estate transfer taxes,1 percent; per-capita taxes, $5; occupation taxes, $10; and wage taxes, 1 percent. Act 679 per-capita taxes will remain the same as well at its current rate of $5.

Furthermore, in following the recommendation of the Budget and Finance Committee, the board gave a nod of approval to the 2011 Homestead/Farmstead Exclusion resolution. The resolution states as a result of gaming revenue generated by Pennsylvania’s Act, qualifying Homestead and Farmstead participants will receive a $221.66 reduction on their tax bill.

District Superintendent Dwayne Northcraft stated following the meeting that more than ever the district is focused on improving the quality of education provided to the student body. The dedication is evident, Northcraft said, in looking at the various types of informational meetings that are readily available to parents and students.

For example, on June 29, high school Principal Todd Beatty and guidance counselor Shelly McMullen, will host a 65-minute presentation for parents of students enrolled in ninth through 12th grade. Those on hand will be available to hear beneficial topics ranging from externships, PSSA testing and class ranking to AP classes and financial aid.

Northcraft stated parents are encouraged to involve themselves with their child’s career goals, which will ultimately drive their high school schedules and related-programming. Numerous AP classes are routinely offered at the district to help college preparations, including chemistry, calculus, English, history, speech communications and, hopefully, in the future, biology.

According to the superintendent, classes such as AP, are possible with extensive reworking of scheduling, which is even more difficult given that the district will be operating with less money and fewer staff.

“Less available money means we’re even more focused on our student needs and the quality of their eduction,” he said.

Old business

Revisiting a topic addressed last year, the board agreed on a 7-2 roll-call vote to allow the junior class to hold the 2012 prom at a location within a 30 to 40 minute radius of McConnellsburg. Board members Garlock and Richards voted against the move in location following a brief discussion on the matter.

Board member Rick Marshall questioned if the relocation of the prom was going to come back to the board on an annual basis for consideration. Solicitor Jim Schall recapped liability issues discovered last year that included the possession of liability insurance by the selected venue and parents and chaperones refraining from parking vehicles. Liability was not a concern, however, for students driving to and from the event.

Ninth-grade Allied Heath students were granted advanced permission to visit Fulton County Medical Center on October 31.

Personnel

Under personnel, the district’s administration is set to visit the Blair County Convention Center July 21-22 for a retreat hosted by Tuscarora Intermediate Unit #11. The administration will attend the event at no cost to the district.

Facing the impending retirement of longtime solicitor Schall, the board hired attorney Roberta Binder Heath to serve as district’s newest solicitor. Heath’s rate to handle litigation matters has been set at $130 per hour, while general matters, including board meetings, is $115 per hour. There will be no charge for mileage to and from the Huntingdon area.

Lauren Carnes was hired to serve as a school psychologist. Carnes will also work with students at the Southern Fulton School District, which will split all expenses 50/50 with Central Fulton.

Several individuals were placed on the 2011-12 extracurricular activity scale, including Odyssey of the Mind coach Denise Mellott, $1,245; yearbook co-advisors Nicole Mendenhall and Sara Duncan, $1,422.50 each; boys varsity head coach Denny Swope, $2,645; and volleyball third assistant coach Pamela Cutshaw, $1,645.

Tenure was granted to middle school teacher Jessica Curfman and Jean Chilcote, elementary school teacher. In order to receive tenure, a teacher must be given a satisfactory rating during the last four months of their third year of service.

McConnellsburg resident Nancy Harris was hired as an elementary teacher at a starting salary of $40,762. Meanwhile, the personnel committee was granted authority to fill any positions that are vacated prior to the board’s next regularly scheduled meeting in August.

Substitutes given permission to serve next year are Kathy Kendall, Lin Henry, Kenneth Welsh and Greg Hays, all of Mc- Connellsburg; and Sarah Clippinger, of Needmore.

A contract was in turn penned, as suggested by the Budget and Finance Committee, with Hays for the Behind the Wheel student driving course. Hays will also complete the necessary student paperwork in connection with the program. Costs associated with the program are unchanged from the prior year.

Hays was also on hand for the June 14 meeting as recipient of a special glass plaque from high school Principal Beatty for his many years of services as athletic director, volleyball and track coach and teacher. Beatty stated Hays went above and beyond in his service to the district and was readily available for games, to meet the buses coming home after events, scheduling referees and games, and helping host district playoff events.

In accepting the recognition award, Hays thanked the board and Superintendent Northcraft for handling the recent retirements in the manner they did. The incentive provided to the outgoing teachers, Hays said, provided a “nice boost.”

“As far as athletic director, I was doing my job. It’s a lot of work, but it makes it easier when you’re in the office late at night and you love what you do,” Hays concluded.

Curriculum/policy

A revision was made to the calendar for the 2011-12 school year. The month of May was changed to reflect one less day, thereby reducing the number of days for the entire school year to 180. Changes were also made to several policies dealing with immunizations/ communicable diseases, possession or use of asthma inhalers/epinephrine auto-injectors, district audit, service animals in school and public attendance at school events.

The board went on to unanimously accept a revised job description for the online coordinator position.

Transportation

Several transportation matters were addressed last Tuesday such as changes to and establishing daily rates for three different routes all belonging to Sandy Deck Transportation. The daily rate for Route #023 jumped from $158.95 to $170.50 retroactive to April 11. The increase resulted from the driver needing to take a detour due to bridge construction.

The daily rate for a route labled as #017 was established at $159.84 per day retroactive to May 13. The route was needed to transport a student to Nulton in Bedford. As a follow-up, the daily rate for the same route was increased effective May 23 to $184.08 to accommodate a second student.

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