Mountain View votes to keep budget in line



The Mountain View School Board voted 6-3 Monday night to to keep its budget in line by not increasing school taxes by more than 1.9 percent.

That is the maximum allowable index the state allows Mountain View without laying out its full budget to the public this early in the budget cycle process.

This increase in taxes was the first of three options presented to the board at a Jan. 11 work session by business manager James Mirabelli.

The second option was to approve the 1.9 percent increase in taxes but reserve the right to levy an additional tax increase of up to 2 percent by filing for exceptions.

“This means we’d go to the State and say ‘I have this expense and I am under undue duress and we need additional funds,’” Mirabelli told the board.

The third option, which had been dismissed as unworkable at the last meeting, was to pass the preliminary budget as is and put the question of a higher tax increase on the ballot for voter approval.

Before casting his “no” vote, Board member Dr. Todd Adams expressed concern that the board was limiting itself and recommended passage of the second option.

“Mountain View has the lowest tax rate in Susquehanna County,” he said.  “We went through a lot of cuts last year. Just because we have an option it doesn’t require us to do that, and we don’t want to cut ourselves short.”

Board member Dava Rinehart-Cowan reiterated her belief that the school district needed to “revamp things.”

“I think we can do it,” she said.

Superintendent Andrew Chichura announced that the district had been selected for a $437,000 “Science: It’s Elementary” grant. 

The funds, which come from a federal program called Innovation 3, will be used for teacher training, program modules, travel and other science-based activities in the elementary classroom and will be spread out over five years.

“Only 20 schools in the state got the grant, I believe,” Chicura said.  “We’re the only one in Northeastern PA.

Also on the agenda Monday evening was the authorization of 2010 disbursements in the amount of $2,006,234.46 and the approval of 2011 bills in the amount of $327.429.94.  Both items passed unanimously.

The board, however, did not approve any agreement with the Northeastern Educational Intermediate Unit to provide Special Education Services to the district. 

Chichura told the board that he had met with other district superintendents about this agreement which, he said, redefines the liability a school district has to ensure a child is educated.

In a 7-2 vote, the board agreed they needed more information.

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