LTSB adding 1.85 mills

BY MICHAEL J. RUDOLF

Wyoming County Press Examiner

FACTORYVILLE – The Lackawanna Trail School Board approved its 2010-2011 budget on Monday, calling for a 1.85 mill increase in the Wyoming County portion of the district and a 0.62 increase in Lackawanna County.

According to business manager David Homish, the budget calls for the district to spend $18,451,633.

The tax rate in Wyoming County will be 67.74 mills, which Homish said would mean an increase of about $26 to the average property owner. In Lackawanna County the rate will be 129.66 mills, or an average increase of $8.

Homish explained the difference in the millage for multi-county school districts is calculated by a formula provided by the state Department of Education. Districts use the formula to ensure that the same amount of revenue is generated in each county, even if the property assessments are done differently.

The number and value of property transactions in the counties can alter the ratio from year to year, he said.

The board opted for the greater of two budget proposals Homish had prepared. The one adopted includes an additional $100,000 for the district’s fund balance, a contingency account for unexpected expenses.

Homish said this will bring the fund balance to $400,000, which is still far below the $1 million the state Department of Education recommends. Without the tax increase, the fund balance would be at $300,000, he said.

Even if the district doesn’t need the fund balance, Homish said it will be helpful in coming years when the district must pay for an expected increase in state-mandated pension contributions.

Homish also explained that the budget was prepared without knowing what state reimbursements the district will get for the coming year. That’s because the state legislature has not approved the commonwealth’s own spending plan yet.

The school district budget estimates that it will get $150,000 from the state, Homish said, based on previous years. However, if that amount does not come through, that amount would be pulled from the fund balance into the general fund, leaving the contingency account with just $250,000.

Several board members expressed their discomfort with voting for a tax increase, but added that it was still a necessity. In the end, only Dan Naylor voted against the new budget.

In another matter, the board announced a change in its meeting schedule. Starting in August, work sessions will be held on the first Monday of every month, with regular meetings on the second Monday. All meetings will be scheduled to start at 7:30 p.m.

The board has no meetings scheduled for July.

The school board also took action on a number of personnel matters, including hiring four new elementary school teachers. They are Craig Muller, at a salary of $47,115; and Sarah Schrader, Laurel Kinbach and Chris Gerkin, at salaries of $42,879 each.

Steven Jervis was hired as a high school science teacher at $58,167.

Also, the board accepted the resignation of Jeffrey Tylutki as a high school music teacher. Tylutki is the son of board president Frank Tylutki.

In addition, the board hired several coaches and activity directors for the coming school year, including:

Errol Mannick, girls’ varsity basketball coach, at a stipend of $4,750 for the season; James Becchetti, assistant junior high girls’ basketball coach, $2,300, and assistant football coach, $3,400; Kathleen Snyder, assistant field hockey coach, $3,450; Laura Evans, assistant cross country coach, $2,000; and Dave Bower II, stage craft director, $875 per play. Bower is the brother of Katie Bower, who was hired last month as the new drama director.

A decision on an assistant girls’ varsity basketball coach was tabled.

Also, the board accepted Elizabeth Marionni’s resignation as assistant field hockey coach, and named her as a volunteer coach. Other resignations accepted included William Nasser as assistant girls’ varsity basketball coach and Daniel Demora as assistant track coach and assistant cross-country coach.