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Taxes, school building study discussed at Jersey Shore

JERSEY SHORE — Amid an ongoing pandemic, job losses and diminishing tax revenues, the Jersey Shore Area School Board is looking to at least limit any property tax increase for fiscal year 2021-22.

Meeting this week, board members agreed to — so far — not raise the tax rate beyond the index established by the state Department of Education.

That index is 4.1 percent. The property tax is a major funding source for the district.

The board could seek an exception to the limit if it wants to raise taxes beyond the index.

However, district Superintendent Dr. Brian Ulmer and Business Manager Ben Enders are recommending the school board not exceed the index.

Further, Enders clarified that neither the administration nor the board is committing to any tax increase, or that any tax hike is assumed.

“My presentation was to make it very clear we are not voting to raise real estate taxes,” Enders explained to the board Monday night. “You’re only voting to cap how much you could raise real estate taxes.”

Any decision to raise taxes — or not — will be made by the board in May, he emphasized.

Under personnel, the board accepted the resignation of Bridget Carmeci, an eighth-grade English-language arts teacher, effective upon the hire of a replacement or 60 days, whichever comes first.

It also accepted the resignation of Misti Koons, part-time food service employee, effective last Dec. 8.

Board members also approved hiring Jerry Clark as a bus driver with Marden’s, Inc. and Jennifer Rieck as game staff for the athletic department for the 2020-21 school year.

The board further approved the job description for the director of building and grounds.

Other approved items included:

— An addendum to extend the existing contract with Muncy Bank & Trust as the depository for the district for one year, beginning July 1.

— The acceptance of a $600 donation from the McInroy-Sheffer People Trust to be used for interscholastic academic competitions.

— Issuing a request for proposal to manage the Gilhart Scholarship Fund.

— The Verizon wireless limited distance learning agreement for distance learning data plan and equipment.

— A five-year affiliation agreement between Messiah University.

The board also approved several updated board policies, including those on Jersey Shore online learning, class size, assessment system, the English as a second language/bilingual education program and charter schools.

Prior to the business portion of the meeting, Hunt Engineering presented a preliminary report on a feasibility study of all of district buildings. A final presentation with recommendations to the board should be ready in a month or two.

Board members present this week included David Becker, Harry Brungard, Patrice Doebler, Angela Grant, Wayne Kinley, Nancy Petrosky, Michelle Stemler, Mary Thomas and Craig Allen.

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