South Side school OKs 0.6-mill hike

South Williamsport Area School Board approved a preliminary final budget for the 2013-14 school year Monday, which included a real-estate tax increase of 0.6 mills.

The budget still has a deficit of about $248,000 after the tax increase. After the meeting, Superintendent Dr. Mark Stamm said the district will use committed fund balance it has set aside for pension increases to fund the remaining deficit.

The district has been planning for the pension increases, and had the money to use when it needed it, Stamm added.

The board voted 7-0 to approve the preliminary budget.

In other business, the board made two personnel hirings.

The board hired Matthew Fisher as assistant high school principal at a starting salary of $65,000. Fisher has worked at the high school for the past seven years teaching business classes.

Stamm reported that the high school has gone two years without an assistant principal after cutting three administration positions saving the district $260,000.

John Engel, board president, acknowledged Fisher’s discipline in the classroom and said he was happy that he was appointed to the position.

“I’m glad you’re on board,” Engel said.

Stamm said Fisher was given the tasks of updating the business education program and building the FBLA Club, both which he excelled at.

“He’s going to be a tough act to follow but there’s a foundation there,” Stamm said.

The board also appointed Becky Swinehart as a school speech pathologist with a starting salary of $45,507. Swinehart has been with the district for four years while she worked toward her master’s degree.

Stamm said the hiring will give the district some stability as it has been difficult to retain speech pathologists at public schools. He called Swinehart a “perfect fit” for the district.