MV imposes limit on tax increase

BY VIRGINIA CODY

The Mountain View School Board agreed unanimously on Monday night to limit next year’s potential tax increase to just 2.3 percent.

In advance of the vote, departing business manager James Mirabelli gave a final presentation on the 2013-14 budget as it stands presently.

Mirabelli said that while the numbers he presented were based on a number of tenuous assumptions, he estimated the school district would spend $17,154,388 next year, but would realize revenue of just $16,255,411.

“That leaves a structural deficit of $898,977,” he said.

Mirabelli reiterated that the projected budget incorporates projected increases in pension and medical insurance costs.

“The pension spike is finally here.  We will pay close to $1 million in pension costs in 2013-14,” he added.

Some of the unknowns Mirabelli had to include in his budget projections were costs of several retirements anticipated and the fact that the district’s contract with professional staff expires and will have to be renegotiated in June 2012.

“There’s going to be a great deal of uncertainty,” he said.

Mirabelli said a 2.3 percent increase in taxes will equate to $135,000.

But in addition to that amount added to district revenue, natural gas drilling in the area is likely to drive up property values.

In other school related business, curriculum director Karen Voigt presented the district’s Adequate Yearly Progress report card.

The report card itself is available to the public online at http://paayp.emetric.net/Content/reportcards/RC11D119584603.PDF

Overall, the district achieved its goals for AYP last year, Voigt said.  Scores were generally within a few points of the state averages.

In elementary school, fifth grade scores were lowest, and the board discussed at length why that might have occurred.

Voigt pointed out that fifth grade scores throughout the state were lower.

In eleventh grade, scores were also lacking, Voigt said.

Part of the problem there might be that students did not see the value in the tests so didn’t make the kind of effort needed.

Another matter that grew out of discussions about AYP was the fact that the many computer software programs in use by the district are not compatible with one another.

Mirabelli said he’d written a letter to at least one of the companies involved “expressing every frustration” we have.

The matter was tabled by the board which plans to address it at a later date.

In other district business, the school board agreed to award Pocono Transportation a replacement bus contract for School Bus 3.

Board member Kevin Griffiths, the only dissenter to the decision, said he believed the contract should have been awarded to someone in the county even if the contract cost a little bit more.

In sports-related news, the board appointed several supplemental salary coach positions.

Individuals hired were:  Jason Nese, cross country; Brion Stone, golf; Roger Thomas, boys junior varsity soccer; Errol Mannich, girls junior varsity soccer; Anthony Borgia and John Fitzpatrick, boys and girls junior high soccer; Abby Barrett, girls varsity/junior varsity volleyball.

The school board will hold its first work session meeting in 2012 on Jan 9.  The first voting meeting of the year will be Jan. 16.