Concerns with Montoursville school budget raised

With the budget deadline looming ever closer, some people made it clear they are anxious to know what’s up with the spending plan.

Next year’s budget was not on Tuesday night’s school board agenda, but some district residents reminded the board they haven’t forgotten about it.

“I haven’t heard a word about the budget,” Robert Lorson said during the public comment period of the board meeting.

Lorson, a former board member, accused school directors of being secretive about budget proceedings.

He wanted to know if the plan was to raise real estate taxes above the Act I Index of 3.1 percent allowed by the state.

“Let the public know what’s going on,” he said.

In February, the board approved a $29.3 million preliminary budget that called for a real estate hike of 0.85 mills, which would exceed the index.

School officials made it clear at the time that the spending plan is subject to change.

Scott Metzger said he was disappointed with school directors, noting they spent too much of Tuesday’s meeting discussing wording for a plaque to commemorate the high school building project when they could have talked about the budget.

“The school tax goes up every year,” he said. “And it goes up exponentially. You are stewards of our dollars. Show us what you are doing behind the scenes.”

Added Pamela Nelson: “We need to be seeing stuff.”

Earlier in the meeting, board member Ron Snell suggested that all school directors should be part of the budget discussions.

“We have a budget committee,” board member William Ruffing told Snell.

Snell said the spending plan needed to be discussed by all board members.

“My request is to go over the budget line item by line item to cut the (budget) deficit we have,” he said. “This is the sixth meeting in a row I’ve requested this.”

The deadline for a final budget is June 30.

In other matters, the board discussed wording for the plaque.

At one point, a motion was made to change the wording approved by school directors last year.

Originally, the plaque was to read: “This building has been made possible by the hard-working past, present and future taxpayers of the Montoursvile Area School District.”

Eventually, it was agreed to table the motion to allow the public to be part of the process at the next meeting.

The board approved 36 district students for the Extended School Year Program run by BLaST Intermediate Unit 17 at a cost of $68,644. The program for special education students runs from June 18 to July 19.

The board voted to hire NRG Controls North, Inc., Selinsgrove to install security doors at Lyter Elementary School at a cost of $28,584.

In personnel matters, the board hired Marc Guthrie as a night custodian at $13.64 per hour. He replaces Ryan Morgan who has resigned.

Coaching positions approved by the board were: Bryan Pauling, assistant boys soccer, $1,900; Will Jones, assistant boys track and field, $2,600 and Russell Gombosi, first assistant swimming, $2,500.