School district approves budget with tax increase

The Williamsport Area School Board voted 7-0 to approve its 2019-20 budget with a .39 mill tax increase Tuesday, lifting its total millage from 16.50 to 16.89.

Board members Adam Welteroth and Patrick Dison were absent.

The increase, which is below the Act 1 index of 3.2 percent, translates into an additional $39 for every $100,000 of a property’s assessed value.

About $30,000 of the newly generated funding is planned to be added to the maintenance department’s budget, said Wanda Erb, business manager.

The total expenditures are estimated to be $92,922,944 and the estimated fund balance and revenue total $100,374,699.

“These are not easy times. These are not easy decisions for any of us to make,” said Lori Baer, board president. “I know sometimes people think we might not be using money wisely, but I feel that we have really looked at this budget pretty hard and taken out what needs to be taken out.”

In another matter, board member Dr. Jane Penman proposed reviewing the district’s policy which allows it to perform tax collection duties for other schools and municipalities countywide — specifically, she wants to review how the district’s tax office handles abatement requests.

On that note, the board approved several abatement requests Tuesday, but denied one in which someone had not paid in 12 years despite claiming to have “filed timely.”

That person could appeal the decision with the Lycoming County Tax Collection Committee, said Solicitor Fred Holland. Should the matter go to court, Holland said he could not see a situation in which the district would lose more money than if it had approved the abatement.

In other business, the board:

• Appointed Dr. Bernadette Boerckel, Dr. Brandon Pardoe, Michael Lundy, Michael Beucler, Susan Dinsmore and Lynne Piotrowski to the district’s Education Foundation board of directors.

• Approved a contract with BLaST Intermediate Unit 17 for the 2019-20 school year in the amount of $817,342 for support programs and services for students with disabilities.

• Approved the purchase of 30 books plus one faculty edition at a cost of about $5,000 for a new oceanography science elective to be offered next school year.

• Approved a proposal from Graybar in the amount of $12,194 for materials to supply E-pod at the high school for wiring.

• Approved a purchase of 175 each of Safety Tech International alarm stoppers and clear spacers for all fire alarm pulls throughout the district’s buildings in the amount of $18,328.

In personnel matters, the board:

• Recognized the resignations of Georgene A. Gardner, Debra R. Kern and Dawne S. Paronish for retirement, and Andrea M. Campbell for other employment.

• Hired Frederick E. Wright Jr. as a custodial supervisor at a salary of $47,611 effective July 1, replacing Scott Ferguson who retired; Emily R. Armstrong as a temporary professional employee, replacing retired James Hockenberry as a high school art teacher in the new school year, at a salary of $53,500; Marissa M. Hall as a temporary professional employee, replacing Amanda Richards as a kindergarten teacher at Cochran Primary School, at a salary of $50,500; Christie M. Peck as a temporary professional employee, replacing Julie Caringi as a school social worker and home and school visitor for the district, at a salary of $53,500; and David A. Cendoma to be assigned to part-time custodian at Curtin Intermediate School with a base wage rate of $12.88 per hour effective today, replacing Jason Pick who was transferred.