Montoursville budget a work in progress

Montoursville Area School District’s budget remains very much a work in progress with school board members Tuesday night discussing how to keep the real estate tax increase lower than projected.

The discussion followed a presentation by business manager Brandy Smith on revenue projections for next year’s budget.

Property taxes, the biggest local revenue producer, are expected to raise more than $11 million next year.

Other local revenue projections include earned income taxes, $3.6 million, and real estate transfer taxes, $218,000.

Local revenues comprise about 56 percent of the budget while state revenues comprise more than 42 percent, according to Smith.

Another 1.3 percent is funded by federal dollars.

School directors Dave Shimmel and Dottie Mathers said they’d like to somehow decrease the proposed real estate tax hike of 0.46 mills.

Smith said it is difficult to know exactly what the revenues will be.

“It’s (budget) a constantly moving target,” she said.

She said cutting programs to slice expenses can mean hurting the student education process.

“What I’m suggesting is tweak the numbers,” Shimmel said.

The board subsequently discussed raising the amount of revenue projections proposed by Smith.

School board member William Ruffing said he could go along with it but warned, “If we over-project revenues, we will pay for it next year. It’s a roll of the dice.”

Smith said it would be up to the board to decide what to do.

She said her numbers were conservative.

The board is to meet again May 14.

The deadline for final budget approval is June 30.

In other matters, the board heard a presentation about STEM education.

STEM is a curriculum that educates students in science, technology, engineering and mathematics in an interdisciplinary and applied approach.

Stephanie Beadle, district STEM coordinator, said she hopes to further advance the program for students in grades five through eight.

“This is a way of thinking, a way of learning,” she said of STEM. “This is problem solving and becoming a productive member of society.”