JERSEY SHORE — By a vote of 6 to 3, the final 2022-23 general fund budget for the Jersey Shore school district was approved by the school board at their meeting this week, including small property tax increases.
In presenting the final budget, Ben Enders, district executive director, informed the board that final revenue was set at $43,721,158 and expenditure at $45,078,416, resulting in a budget deficit of $1,357,258. Of this amount, $492,953 is funded by the committed balance and $864,305 is funded by the unallocated balance.
“A key point here is that this budget does not reflect an increase in government funding,” Enders said.
“Any increase we get from the Commonwealth would just reduce our budget deficit for this year,” Enders added.
Included in the budget is a 1.18% increase in property taxes for Clinton County landowners and a 0.74% increase for those in Lycoming County. For district residents, as of the 2021-22 school year, property tax rates are 13.82 million in Clinton County and 18.38 million in Lycoming County, up from 13.50 and 18.31 million, respectively. For a $100,000 home in the school district, Clinton County residents would pay $1,382 in property taxes, and Lycoming County residents would pay $1,838.
Board member Wayne Kinley expressed his disagreement, saying: “We will soon have to look for other ways to deal with these deficits.”
“We’re on a path where I think we’re headed for financial trouble in a couple of years.” Kinley added, detailing the district’s fund balance depletion in recent years.
Kinley cited the decline in school enrollment especially at the Avis and Salladasburg elementary schools.
“Do we really think we can reverse these declines? Is there anything out there that suggests that?” asked Kinley.
Board Chair Mary Thomas referenced a presentation by Jason Fink, President and CEO of the Williamsport Lycoming County Chamber of Commerce, earlier in the meeting in which he sought Local Economic Revitalization Tax Assistance (LERTA) for a local business expansion that could potentially add families in the district over the next few years.
“The only thing left I can say is that there is a solution and that is an elementary school.” said Kinley before Thomas told him that this was a discussion for another time.
The board members who voted against passing the budget were Kinley, Michelle Stemler and Jessie Edwards. Michael Allen, Patrice Doebler, Angela Grant, Nancy Petrosky, Kayla Calhoun and Thomas voted in favor.
In other businesses, the board approved the emergency class time template required to count class time in the event of a closure due to a health crisis. The board also approved American Rescue Esser’s health and safety plan, which requires a six-month review.
Under personnel matters, the board accepted the resignations of the following employees: Matthew Hartman, middle school cross-country coach; Cynthia Davis, who is retiring as a library assistant at Salladasburg Elementary; and Michelle Matter, part-time hospitality clerk. An updated resignation letter from Levi Cramer, Network Computer Engineer, was also accepted.
The following appointments have been approved at the salary rates listed: Averie Hess, high school science teacher, $47,409; Samantha Bailey, Kindergarten Teacher at Jersey Shore Elementary (JSE), $47,409; Paige Eiswerth, kindergarten teacher at JSE, $49,411; Kaitlyn Winton, high school English teacher, $62,895; Jordan Russell, fifth grade teacher at JSE, $48,357; Shelby Pauling, fourth grade teacher at JSE, $47,409; Holly Lehman, 12-month secretary at JSE, $39,100; Bradd Williamson, Science Department Coordinator, grant of $2,350; Amanda Houtz, part-time hospitality worker, $12 an hour; Kari Borner, full-time middle school supervisor, $15 an hour; Matthew Hartman as a volunteer coach for the cross-country program; and Beth Wrench, full-time para-skilled worker at JSE, $19,200.
Three transfers were approved: Jennifer Mellinger to Avis Elementary as a Title I Paraprofessional, $20,050; Andrea Decker to Salladasburg Elementary as Library Paraprofessional, $20,050; and Joshua Stover to Avis Elementary as Principal Administrators.
The board approved two agreements with BLaST IU 17 and the district. One for joint special education services for the upcoming school year and the other an IDEA agreement for BLaST to manage federal special education funds in accordance with IDEA regulations and direct funds to the district to supplement special education services. The estimated IDEA funds for the district are $412,515.
Other items approved by the board were:
— A contract with Direct Energy to fix electricity prices for four years.
— A letter of engagement to Baker Tilly US, LLP for the required annual financial audit of the district’s financial records for the fiscal year ended June 30, 2022 at a cost of $37,275.
— A memorandum of understanding between the district and IU 17 for curriculum and professional learning services for the upcoming school year.
— Donation of an iPad to the Big Teams, LLC athletic department.
– The first reading of Directive 237, which deals with the use of electronic devices, in particular what is allowed and what is not.
— A Letter of Intent with the Pennsylvania State Police Troop and District for Services at Salladasburg and Avis Elementary Schools and a Letter of Intent with the Tiadaghton Valley Regional Police Department and District for Services at County Schools.
— A letter of understanding between the West Branch Drug and Alcohol Abuse Commission and the district. This is a standard extension.
— A Qualified Service Organization Agreement between the West Branch Drug and Alcohol Abuse Commission and the district, specifying what information may be passed back and forth.
Hired the law firm of McCormick as district attorney for the 2022-23 school year at a rate of $155 per hour for professional services, $75 per hour for paralegals, $375 per scheduled board meeting plus mileage at the IRS rate and reimbursement for all outages out-of-pocket expenses on behalf of the district, including photocopies at $0.25 per page.
The addition of a Pennsylvania College of Technology dual-enrollment technology course to the high school’s 2022-23 course catalog, open to sophomores, juniors and seniors.
The next board meeting will be June 27 at 7:00 p.m. at the District Administration Building at 175 A&P Drive.