WELLSBORO - Facing a near $300,000 deficit, the Wellsboro Area School Board has a big job ahead figuring out how to balance the budget this year, district Business Manager Marcia Newcomb said after the board's Tuesday meeting.
The board already has decided to raise taxes to the Act 1 index limit, but that will not be enough Newcomb said.
"We will be working on it," she added.
The next budget committee meeting will be held at noon Feb. 29 at the district's administration building.
Board member Jonathan Lawton noted that in the district's five year financial projections, which the board approved as part of a contract agreement between the district and the educational support professionals association, the "school district doesn't look real good in the future."
"I have no criticisms of anyone making what is in this contract, but I don't think the district can afford them, especially in future years, and it shows in this projection, in four years we are looking at a $1.5 million deficit," he said.
Lawton wanted to know how the board is going to handle that.
Both Lawton and board member Chris Gastrock voted no on the contract, the rest of the board members voted yes.
Gastrock and Lawton were joined by John Peropat in voting against a similar contract for administrators.
A third request for an increase in the support personnel substitute pay rate from $8 per hour to $10 per hour was approved unanimously.
Superintendent Chris Morral said the district "has had an increasing amount of struggles competing with the natural gas industry starting people out at significantly higher rates than we can."
"We have two to three vacancies with custodial positions not filled. We are hoping this small increase will be an incentive by employees to want to be employed by the Wellsboro Area School District," he said.
A fourth request for an increase in pay for support personnel after a probationary period to 90 days also was approved unanimously. Effective Feb. 15, hourly rates for instructional aides, library clerks, non-instructional aides and custodians will be $10 per hour; for secretarial and technology technicians will be $11 per hour; and for maintenance personnel $13 per hour.
Krista Strainiere was hired as an elementary school nurse effective Feb. 20, at a salary of $41,909 annually.