November 28, 2023

When: May 9 school board meeting, with all members present.

What happened: The board adopted a preliminary budget for the 2022-23 school year. Chris Johnston, the district business manager, presented on the matter.

Budget details: The budget is expected to change, as some factors have not yet been finalized, Johnston said. Special education, staffing and salaries are some of the moving parts that will alter the numbers when the final budget is presented June 6 and ultimately voted on during the June 20 meeting.

The preliminary budget includes estimated revenues of $95,388,597 against expenditures of $96,788,518, creating a funding gap of $1,399,921. Johnston is recommending a 2.57% tax increase, from the current 17.523 mills to 17.973 mills, to assist in balancing the budget. If the tax hike is approved, the district would be dipping into its fund balance for only $3,511.

Johnston said the Taxpayer Relief Act, which gives districts a share of state gaming revenue, will temper the tax increase.

The owner of a property with the median assessed value of $181,200 would pay an additional $81.54 in property tax, but also would be receiving an additional $34.37 in state property tax relief, resulting in a net additional tax burden of $47.14.

Selling used goods: Mr. Johnston also informed the board of the $10,916 the district generated by using Municibid, an online auction website that allows various government agencies to sell their surplus furniture and materials.

The district was able to auction off student chairs, metal lockers, steel doors with frames, a 1987 trailer, a 2004 SmithCo Sprayer, MicroRain water wheels, an industrial scale and even a vending machine that was missing its key. Future postings will include cafeteria equipment and tables, cord reels, weight room equipment and various pieces of office furniture. The online auctions are open to the public.

On-assignment positions: Multiple two-year on-assignment positions were slated to be internally posted on May 10 for the district. Elementary and Secondary Emergency Relief funds will allow for long-term substitutes to fill in for the staff that take on the newly created positions for those two years.

Openings indicate the need for learning facilitators at the elementary and secondary level, school counselors, student support personnel and a supervisor of curriculum and instruction. During the two-year term, data collection will occur to inform the next steps. These positions will assist in tackling learning loss and the social well-being of students following the turbulent years of the pandemic.

Hero honored: Hambright cafeteria staff member Sandra Bock, new to Penn Manor this year, was recognized with a proclamation from the board. During breakfast duty, roughly two months ago, Block noticed a child was choking on a piece of bacon. She provided the Heimlich maneuver, essentially saving the child’s life.

Board President Carlton Rintz spoke to Block saying, “I know you did not do this for the attention,” but her actions are worthy of attention and recognition. The proclamation, read by Frederick Herr, applauded Block for her “quick thinking” and heroic attention.

Fisher Farm: A property known as the Fisher Farm, of approximately 26 acres, has been owned by the district for some time. An agreement between the tenants and the district allowed the Fishers to live on the property until their passing. Superintendent Mike Leichliter informed the board that Mrs. Fisher passed away recently, having lived there at the farm for 72 years. She was 20 when she first moved to the property.

The Fisher children have asked if they may have an extension until Oct. 1 to vacate the property. The board saw no issue with allowing the extension. Leichliter said he would meet with the children to inform them of the board’s agreement on the request.

CTC Update: Christopher Straub let the board know Penn Manor is still looking at “a very large waitlist,” mainly jammed with juniors looking to jump into a half-day program. He went on to say there are “no fast answers” for solving this, but that they will continue to seek solutions. Adjusting programs, adjusting buildings and getting staff is no easy feat, he said.

Support staff bonus: The board has approved a one-time payment of $1 per hour to support staff active on May 9, 2022. This bonus will be based on the hours worked during the 26 pay dates, ranging from May 5, 2021 all the way through April 20, 2022.

Vice President Joseph Fullerton called this motion a step in the right direction, but noted the hourly wage for support staff needs to be increased.

What’s next: The next school board meeting is scheduled for May 23.


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