Mt. View board begins budget talks

BY PAT FARNELLI

The Mountain View School Board was presented with an overview of the proposed 2011 budget at its regular meeting Monday, Dec. 20.

Business manager James D. Mirabelli presented charts showing revenue and expenditure trends over recent years, and discussed changes in state funding that will affect next year’s budget.

The budget will be discussed further at the board’s work session on Jan. 10, and will be voted on at the Jan. 17 meeting at 7 p.m.

Mirabelli said that the board will have to decide whether to stay within the tax index- not increasing millage more than 1.9 percent – or to file for exceptions or a referendum.

The board will have to adopt a final budget by June 30.

Mirabelli also discussed the school district’s equipment budget, and its copier agreement in particular.

The current contract will run out in a little over a year, and the vendor has offered a better deal if the contract is renewed at this time rather than waiting until the end of the agreement.

The current vendor has offered to bring in new copiers at a lower rate, with special rebates available right now. This would save the district $1,000 a month, or $12,000 a year.

Mirabelli said the feedback he has received from school employees is that they are happy with the service, but not the machines themselves.

Dr. Andrew Chichura, Mirabelli, and High School Principal Andy Zoster all spoke highly of the copier service.

Board member Kevin M. Griffiths was against renewing the contract. Mark D. Phillips, treasurer and board member, wanted to get a few competitive bids.

Board member Ellen B. Aherne wondered if there were several copiers that worked particularly well, or even one that was so reliable that folks would stand in line to use that one, since that often occurs in large office settings.

“No,” was the answer from faculty and staff present.

The copier issue was tabled until the Jan. 17 public meeting.

Dava Rinehart-Cowan brought up the electricity provider deregulation, due in the Penelec area Jan. 1. She said that although Penelec predicts a 14.55 percent rate increase, the district will stay with Penelec rather than switching to another utility company, as a number of Susquehanna County districts have chosen to do.

Superintendent Andrew Chichura said that they are still looking into other options, but did not wish to be locked into a 3-year contract.

Rinehart-Cowan said that the district’s recent upgrades to the electrical system have resulted in significant savings, and that a change was not warranted at this time.

The standing committees for the school board were appointed, and all chairpersons and committee members remained the same as for 2010.

A new student liason, Ryan Walsh, was introduced to the board, and he reported on student activities.

Walsh announced the  $700 grant received by the International Language club from Target. The grant will be used for the high school opera trip. The club is also selling Tshirts with “hello” and “goodbye” in many languages as a fundraiser.

The board approved the Sterling Act Tax Credit for calendar year 2009. This allows local governments and school districts to receive tax credits for residents who are employed elsewhere.

The school board authorized the advertising of bids for the 2011 school year for custodial and maintenance supplies, computer supplies, cafeteria supplies, copy paper, fuel oil, furniture, general supplies, athletic supplies, wood chips, snow removal, Washington trip, Harrisburg Trip, and school photography.

The board members voted to approve budget transfers between subfunctions for 2010-2011.  Two members of the board, Griffiths and Rinehart-Cowan, voted no.

A transfer of $10,500 was approved from the General Fund to the Athletic Fund for the 2010-2011 school year.

Nicole Furch, certified Elementary K-6, was added to the elementary substitute list.

Brittany Wilkins was added to the paraprofessional, clerical, and cafeteria monitor substitute lists. Mavaurneen Boner and Margaret Nichols were added to the nurse substitute list.

Nancy J. Sutton’s resignation due to retirement from her elementary school food service position was accepted as was Tracy Karmel-Pierce’s from her Junior Varsity Girl’s Basketball Coach position.

Athletic volunteers were approved by the board for the 2010-11 school year: James Wescott, boys’ basketball and baseball; Ronald Petrunich, girls’ basketball; Elizabeth Williams and Judy Molenko, basketball cheerleading.

Two ninetieth birthdays were announced by the superintendent, and a card was signed. Catherine Escandell, a longtime school nurse, is turning 90. So is Robert Klenk, “Mr. Mountain View,” who was a teacher, coach, athletic director, and principal for the Mountain View District before his retirement.

Klenk, a World War II veteran, was honored on Sept. 11 with the dedication of a new soccer field and track at the MVSD athletic complex, which was named in his honor in 2001.

Mountain View students recently visited Klenk at a nursing home in Forest City, and held a concert for him there, which he enjoyed very much, it was reported.

A 3D seismic survey will be conducted on Mountain View properties by Cabot Oil and Gas Corporation. The district has parcels of 58.88 acres and 31.12 acres, and the seismic testing was approved by the board to be conducted across all or part of the properties as permitted. The endorsed permits will be attached to the board meeting minutes.

The school district has a no surface activity lease for natural gas, Chichura said.