South Side school budget talks starting

The South Williamsport Area School District is looking at an $800,000 deficit for its 2017-18 preliminary budget due to the increase in health insurance, retirement and a $346,000 deficit from the 2016-17 school year.

Although there are no estimated expenditures or revenues yet, Business Manager Denny Artley was given the board’s approval to proceed with creating a preliminary budget. The board will vote on the preliminary budget during its Feb. 6 meeting.

For the next school year, Artley said there is a 10 percent, or $241,000, increase in health insurance and a 2.5 percent, or $213,000, increase in retirement costs — totaling $454,000.

The board also agreed to file exceptions for special education and retirement with the state to possibly receive additional funds. Last year the district received $200,000 in exceptions but Artley is expecting around $100,000 for the year.

Voting were Chris Branton, Gregg Anthony, Joseph Pulizzi III, Steve Persun, Jerry Broskey, Nicholas Fiorini and Sue Davenport. John Engel and Cathy Bachman were absent.

Bill Reifsnyder, director of building and grounds, discussed capital reserve improvement projects for 2017 that would cost $95,000 according to his estimates.

One of the top priorities is updating the air conditioning in the district server room  where $100,000 worth of technology is kept, according to Dwight Woodley, Rommelt Elementary School principal and director of instructional technology.

Superintendent Dr. Mark Stamm said it is essential to keep that room cool because the technology generates so much heat. Due to the broken air conditioning, there already has been over $10,000 worth of damage.

Some of the other projects include repairing the roof and heating system at Central Elementary School, upgrading security cameras in the high school, replacing carpet and getting a newer tractor to replace a 1990 model.

In the next three to five years, the district looks to replace a minivan and driver’s education car, the concrete stairs at Central Elementary, change the boilers at Central and fix the high school roof. There are no estimates for these projects yet.

The board discussed some options for improving the soccer field that school teams play on. They have been playing on the South Williamsport Borough field, which is in poor condition, as is the district field.

It would cost $40,000 to level and seed the district field for the athletes to play on in 2018, Stamm said.

Discussions also have been held with Larsen Design about creating a soccer complex in the future but the board is not certain what route it will take.

In other business, the board approved the retirement for Verna Correll, high school guidance counselor, and Robert Kimble, custodian.

It also voted to hire coaches Brett Kelley, high school baseball, $2,085 stipend; Garrett Shnyder, baseball, $1,788 stipend; and Chris Vanaskie, boys middle school soccer, $1,788 stipend.