Tax increase at Mt. View

BY VIRGINIA CODY

Mountain View School District officially approved a 2011-12 general fund budget in the amount of $16,699,083 Monday night.

The district also officially set the millage rate at 34.3 mills.

Despite the six-tenths of a mill increase, the district still faces a deficit of $909,781.  The dollar amount is approximately $300,000 less than projected in May and is the result of having made several cuts in projected expenditures.

“We scrubbed every line item,” said Business Manager James Mirabelli said.

If necessary, the board hopes to cover the shortfall by pulling that amount out of its existing general fund which at the end of this year is projected to have a balance of $1.282 million in unassigned funds.

“We do expect a little help from the state,” Mirabelli said.

But because the district is still in the dark as to how much funding it can rely on getting from the state, it based the coming year’s budget on how much it was assured of receiving from taxes and known federal programs.  That money includes per capita, occupational assessment, earned income and real estate transfer taxes, federal monies for pre-K counts and medical assistance reimbursement.

“We’re going to be okay,” said Mirabelli.  “My five-year projection looks like we’ll be okay without taking drastic measures.”

In the meantime, he said, the district will scrutinize every proposed expenditure.

“We’ll ask ourselves, do we really need this,” he said.  “There are more drastic things we can do.”

In its continuing effort to manage its money as carefully as possible, the board voted to approve one teacher’s resignation and retirement and will not seek to refill that position, said superintendent Andrew Chichura.

In addition, the board approved the layoffs of two custodial workers, one at the high school and one at the elementary school.

Also on the agenda Monday, was the hiring of several extended school year teachers, paraprofessionals, and substitute teachers, a parent driver, and a substitute bus driver.

The board also approved a three cent increase in mileage rates for car and van contractors and increased the layover rates to $7 per hour.

In other district news, Karen Voigt, Director of Curriculum and Instruction/Federal Programs, announced that Mountain View will participate in three Investing in Innovation Fund grants during the next year.  One of the programs is aimed at improving science teaching, she said, while the other two are designed to improve reading teaching.

“The newest of these is the Reading Apprenticeship Improving Secondary Education study,” she said.  The program builds our district’s ability to sustain high level academic literacy practices and supports, she said.

“We’ve been designated an experimental group,” she said, explaining that teachers in English, biology, and social studies will be training in the Reading Apprenticeship model at DeSales University in Allentown the first week of August.

These teachers, she said, will be using the apprenticeship in their instruction for the next five years.

“These are multi-million dollar awards with all the research from these studies being published.  We’re very excited.”