Williamsport will seek exceptions to Act 1 index

The Williamsport Area School Board will seek state Department of Education’s approval to raise taxes over the Act 1 index if needed.

The Act 1 index is the highest percentage the board can raise taxes. Anything higher than the Act 1 index must be approved by the state Department of Education

The board recently approved a preliminary budget developed without knowing what exact funds will be received from the state and based off the budget the district had last year. With the preliminary budget, the school district is looking at a $2.5 million deficit at this time. To pay for the deficit the board would raise the millage from 14.816 mills to 16.4986 mills – a 1.6826 mill increase, according to Jeffrey Richards, business manager.

“There is no way we could raise taxes that high, but we need to show the state, “Richards said.

Act 511 Taxes, will remain as they were for the 2013-2014 year. The earned income tax will remain at 1.5 percent and the real estate transfer will be .5 of 1 percent.

Health insurance is one of the main reasons for a possible tax hike and is expected to go up 15 percent. The increase will cost the district about $1 million. Retirement rates also are expected to increase from 16.93 percent to 21.04 percent and expected to cost the district about $845,000. These two factors make up a majority of the $2.5 million deficit

Although the school district authorized to seek approval for exceptions, it does not mean that it plans on using the exception for a tax hike.

The board is seeking approval for the exceptions in case not enough funds come from the state, said Richards.

“By no means is this the end of the budget,” board President Lori Baer said.

The board will continue to update and make changes to the preliminary budget as exact totals for state funding are known. The state has until June 30 to approve the education budget. The board hopes to adopt the final budget for the school district on June 17.

A lot of changes will be made before it is adopted, Richards said.

The board also hired new staff members and coaches during the meeting.

Jamie Yonkin, of Williamsport, was hired as a temporary guidance counselor at the high school. Yonkin will receive a salary rate of $47,150, and will replace Ann Kahler, who has retired.

James Dougherty, of Montoursville, was hired as a temporary assistant principal for the district. Dougherty is to be paid $438 per day, not to exceed 64 days, beginning March 3 through June 5.

Kathy Gorg, of Muncy, was hired as a part-time art teacher at the high school. Gorg will work up to 10 hours at $30.59 per hour to complete the Fazzino fifth-grade art project on Feb. 25 and Feb. 26.

Jeffrey Pelly, of Williamsport, was hired to provide up to 20 hours of extended school year services to a special education student. The cost is covered through the special education budget at the rate of $30.59 per hour, or contract rate.

The board also hired the following spring sports coaches for the 2013-14 school year:

Zachary Barr was hired as assistant boys track and field coach at the high school. Barr will receive a salary of $2,072.

Randall Laird was elected as the boys track and field lead assistant coach at the middle school, for a salary of $1,860.

William Cuebas Jr. was hired as an assistant boys track and field coach at the middle school, for a salary of $1,594.

Sean Walker was hired as the boys track and field assistant coach at the middle school, for a salary of $1,371.

Matthew Palmatier was hired as the girls track and field lead assistant coach at the middle school, for a salary of $1,860.

Lindsey Neuhard was hired as the girls track and field assistant coach at the middle school, for a salary of $1,371.

Cornell Lorson was named a volunteer for the girls soccer team at the middle school.

The board also approved a resignation from Amanda Connell, full-time family and consumer science teacher at the high school. The resignation was effective Feb. 1.