WASD preparing to act on .347-mill tax-increase budget

As the Williamsport Area School Board is set to approve its final budget for the 2013-14 school year June 18, it received an update on the budget at its Tuesday meeting.

Jeff Richards, business manager, reported that although there are a “few changes” to the proposed final budget since it was last discussed, it still shows a deficit of about $2.39 million. With changes, such as furloughing a career and technical instructor – saving the district $75,811 – and another retirement, the deficit was decreased to just over $2 million, Richards explained.

But recently it was agreed upon to put an additional $350,000 in the budgetary reserve, which will come out of the fund balance. This move bumped the deficit back to its current standing.

Richards still is proposing a tax increase of .347 mills, the Act 1 Index maximum, and funding the rest of the deficit with fund balance in order to balance the budget.

“It’s still a work in progress. This is where we are at this point,” Richards said.

After Richards presentation, David Stone Jr., board member, asked him if the district’s construction projects would be reimbursed, citing a recent Sun-Gazette report on the uncertainty of a Southern Tioga School District project funding.

“We’re in the pipeline, but that doesn’t mean we’ll be funded right away,” Richards answered.

The district has received reimbursements for its qualified school construction bonds, but have yet to receive any state reimbursements, Richards said after the meeting.

“As far as we know it’s going to happen. We just don’t know when,” he said.

Dr. Kathleen Kelley, superintendent, said that reimbursements may not come for a year or more.

Although reimbursements may not be come in a timely manner, Jeff Angstadt, project manager, reported that construction at both the middle and high school is continuing.

“Things have progressed there very well,” he said.

Asphalt has been laid in the bus loops and sidewalks have been paved on the middle school site, Angstadt said. Walls are up and painted in most areas of the building, as well.

Angstadt also said that about 90 percent of the floors in the classrooms are completed.

Although some demolition work has begun, work in the high school will begin to pick up as school lets out in about a month, he also said.

“Right now there isn’t as much to see (in the high school) as there is (in the middle school),” Angstadt said.

A portion of Hillside Avenue, behind the middle school, also will be closed during the next few days for construction purposes.

“Right now we do have that site blocked off for safety purposes,” he said.

The next board meeting is scheduled for May 14 at Curtin Middle School, 85 Eldred St.