CLEARFIELD – The Clearfield school board unanimously voted to approve its tentative 2016-17 budget with a 2-mill tax increase during Monday night’s regular meeting.
Business Administrator Sam Maney presented the board with four, different budget resolutions to give consideration, as he hadn’t built any millage increase into his budget proposal.
The first resolution didn’t include any millage increase while the second included a 1-mill increase, the third a 2-mill increase and the fourth a 3-mill increase.
Maney said the board was able to increase millage by up to 3.15 percent. “I didn’t put anything in there [the tentative budget], as the board hadn’t decided yet,” he said.
The tentative general fund budget calls for expenditures in the amount of $39.8 million for the upcoming-year.
Maney is currently projecting a $4.9 million deficit, which would leave just under $6 million in the district’s fund balance on June 30, 2017.
He said the district has had a healthy fund balance, and it’s going to have to dip into it. However, he said the board would have to make a decision on taxes without any foreseeable changes in state funding and with the district likely to face deficits in the future.
Board member Tim Morgan suggested they consider the “middle” option for a 2-mill tax increase, which was seconded by board member Jennifer Hughes and approved unanimously.
The tentative 2-mill increase, if finalized by the board, would set real estate millage at 94.84 and generate about a half-million in revenue. The district’s millage rate has been 92.84 for the past four years, according to Maney.
The district will now put the tentative 2016-17 budget on public display. It will be finalized at the school board’s regular meeting on June 27.
Recreation Field Improvements
The board approved by an 8-1 vote to spend up to $50,000 from its capital funds for improvements to recreation fields at both the Clearfield Area Junior-Senior High School and the Clearfield Area Elementary School.
Prior to the vote, board member Gail Ralston said she had a “problem” with the district spending $20,000 on practice field improvements at the CAJSHS campus.
Instead, she felt it was more important to focus funding on improving the safety at the playground and recreation field area for the young children at CAES.
Board member Larry Putt said the board’s concern should be for the safety of all of the district’s students. Ralston concurred, noting there’s a difference between the conditions of the CAJSHS practice field and at CAES, where bricks were coming up.
Ralston said she’d recently walked both fields and wasn’t interested in voting to spend $20,000 on a practice field at the CAJSHS, where the only thing noticeable to her was some vehicle tracks.
Hughes said there’s a difference between walking the fields in decent conditions and children playing on them in not so decent conditions. Ralston said she walked both fields after a torrential rain, and didn’t notice any major safety issues at the practice field at CAJSHS.
Board member Dr. Michael Spencer pointed out that the CAJSHS’s practice field is not level, which isn’t suitable for playing conditions. At the same time, he didn’t disagree with Ralston on the safety issues at CAES.
Board member Randy Pataky asked about the district’s plans to maintain the practice field at the CAJSHS. Maney said it plans to take the best care of it, as it does its other athletic fields.
Hughes said the district was off to a good start so far as plans for its ground improvements at CAJSHS and CAES. She said perhaps it could proceed and also continue to explore a long-term resolution to improve the safety of the playground and fields at the elementary campus.
Morgan then motioned for the district to spend up to $50,000 on the recreation fields at both campuses, which was seconded by Hughes. It was approved with Ralston casting the lone opposing vote.
Proposed Demolition of Former Clearfield Middle School
The proposed demolition of the former Clearfield Middle School has been listed among the capital projects in the works for the district in 2016-17.
A company visited and conducted a walk-through of the building. It provided an estimate in the amount of $850,000 for asbestos abatement, salvaging any materials and then taking down the building.
Board member Susan Mikesell asked Maney if it was an “official estimate. Maney said the proposed demolition would, of course, be put out to bid, and this was a figure for budget purposes.
Later in the meeting, Pataky asked where the district would get the funds to maintain the building if bids to demolish it would happen to be too high.
Maney said it would have to come out of the general fund. The district, he said, had already cut off heat and water to the building, and has been told not to put any more funds into it.
“That’s why we are looking into bringing it down,” he said. “We don’t want it to be a nuisance to the neighbors. There are a host of issues that we’re trying to avoid.
“We don’t think there will be any interest until the building is down.” He said no one from the community has expressed interest, and the district has approached organizations, which haven’t shown any either.
Of the $850,000, Maney said the biggest cost is asbestos abatement ($500,000). The leftover $350,000 will be the net cost after the salvage and demolition process, he said.
New Maintenance Building
Wilson Fisher of Hess & Fisher Engineers of Clearfield reviewed the plans for the district’s new maintenance building with the school board.
The Lawrence Township Supervisors have approved the land development plans for the building, he told board members.
According to him, the plans are to construct a 60 feet wide by 120 feet long maintenance building. It will be located in the area of the multi-sport stadium at the at the CAJSHS campus.
The total construction time will be around 90 days and will wrap up in early fall after school starts. The total cost is being estimated between $250,000 and $300,000, Fisher said.
A surplus school contents auction will be held June 18 at the former Girard-Goshen Elementary School, beginning at 9 a.m.
The building and connected real estate will also be up for sale “as-is” at 12 p.m. if the reserve price is met, according to Superintendent Terry Struble.
It is located on Gillingham Road in LeContes Mills. The building is 26,748 square feet and is located on 23.75 acres.
Girard-Goshen was temporarily closed in October of 2010 due to structural issues with its roof. It was then permanently closed in June of 2012.