CLEARFIELD – The Clearfield Area School District Board of Directors casted their votes twice at Monday night’s regular meeting for the tentative 2011-12 general fund budget before splitting a 5-4 vote for approval with a 3-mill property tax increase.
Board members Dave Glass, Mary Anne Jackson, Larry Putt, Susan Mikesell and Tim Morgan all voted in favor during the second roll call vote. Board members Rick Schickling, Jennifer Wallace, Phil Carr and Dr. Michael Spencer opposed the same.
The board’s initial vote sought a 4-mill property tax increase and failed by a 5-4 vote. Voting down the motion were board members Carr, Putt, Schickling, Spencer and Wallace. Board members Glass, Jackson, Morgan and Mikesell were all in favor of the same.
A 3-mill property tax increase generates an additional $366,948 in revenue while increasing millage to 92.84 percent for 2011-12. A 4-mill tax increase would have generated an additional $489,264 in revenue and increased millage to 93.84 percent. The current real estate millage is 89.84 percent.
According to budget paperwork, the tentative proposal anticipates 2011-12 revenue at $31,057,562 and an expense of $33,106,420, which results in a deficit of $2,048,858. A surplus of $661,534 is projected for the current-year with revenue at $35,083,550 versus expenses of $34,422,016.
When seeking input about the magnitude of the district’s tax increase, Glass reminded the board of the $2 million gap, which represented half of its fund balance. Morgan agreed and said it would be exhausted in another year and “dead” after that.
“The state handed us this problem and has really put us in a bind. No one wants to do this (raise taxes), but I don’t think it’d be responsible of us not to at this point,” Glass said. Jackson then proposed the board raise taxes to the “greatest extent” permitted by law – 6 mills.
Jackson said the district would soon be facing building projects, which are going to stretch its budget. She also believed increases to the Public School Employees Retirement System (PSERS) would become unsustainable under the district’s revenue scenario.
While Morgan was “looking for” a property tax increase between 4 to 6 mills, Putt would only go as high as 3 mills. Schickling said that every year, the board neglects to address personnel and always cuts teachers, while it hasn’t eliminated any cafeteria, secretary or administrative positions despite the declining student enrollment.
“Until then, I will not vote for a tax increase,” Schickling said. Putt agreed those personnel issues haven’t been pressed near enough. Wallace also concurred.
However, Jackson said the district was losing its tax base and if state lawmakers approved legislation eliminating exceptions, which allow school districts’ applications to raise property taxes above the state index, there wouldn’t be anywhere to go.
The tentative 2011-12 budget appropriates $1,414,500 for the capital projects fund as well as $180,168 toward the high school roof budget. A cafeteria fund budget was approved in the amount of $1,383,719.
In other business, due to what was described as a “substantial decrease in pupil enrollment in the school” and at the recommendation of Superintendent Dr. Thomas B. Otto and in accordance with the state’s public school code, the following personnel actions will become effective at the close of the 2010-11 school year:
- Collapse two Kindergarten positions at the Clearfield Elementary School.
- Collapse one first grade position at the Centre Elementary School.
- Collapse one second grade position at Centre.
- Collapse one third grade position at Centre.
- Collapse one first grade position at the Bradford Township Elementary School.
- Collapse one fourth grade position at Bradford Township.
- Collapse one learning support position at the Girard-Goshen Elementary School.
- Collapse one-half of an FTE speech position at Centre and Girard-Goshen.
- Collapse a Title I math position at the elementary level.
- Collapse one health and physical education position at the middle school.
- Collapse one fifth grade position at the middle school.
- Collapse two sixth grade positions at the middle school.
- Collapse one EAP tutor position at the middle school.
- Collapse one English position at the high school.
- Collapse one health and physical education position at the high school.
- Collapse one social studies position at the high school.
- Collapse one science position at the high school.
- Collapse one math position at the high school.
- Collapse one driver education position at the high school.
- Create one elementary health and physical education position at the middle school.
- Create one driver education/health and physical education position at the high school.
- Create one second grade position at Bradford Township.
- Create a middle school special education position.
Otto said that as a result of these personnel actions, the following employees are going to be displaced, but through “bumping, bidding and checkerboarding,” they will have a position within the district.
He announced those staff as follows: Danielle Forcey, Bethany Hoover, Kristy Strishock, Christopher Corradini, Lane Foster, Stacee Harvey, Jennifer Kohan, Cynthia Naddeo, Lynn Washburn, Kathleen Ferry, Brandon Billotte and Courtney Shagren.
Temporary professional employees Laurel Learish, Kindergarten teacher at Clearfield Elementary, and LuAnn Wisor, emotional support at the middle school, will not have their contracts continued, Otto said.