Deficit remains in Montrose school budget
BY STACI WILSON
The Montrose Area School Board adopted the districts 2012-13 preliminary budget at the Monday, May 14 meeting.
The $23,531,602 budget still carries a $341,723 deficit, explained Superintendent Michael Ognosky.
But, he added, that deficit had been whittled down considerably from the $1.2 projected shortfall at the beginning of the budget process.
He also said the projected budget and deficit does not reflect any additional revenue as could be attained through a tax increase or borrowing from the district’s gas lease monies.
Professional and support staff positions have been eliminated once again this year in the district, Ognosky said.
One elementary librarian position was eliminated; and one long-term substitute social studies position will not be replaced. Of support staff positions, the superintendent reported that one position on the computer technical staff and one custodian position would not be replaced.
Ognosky said, “We’re examining staffing with every retirement and resignation.”
“In the past three years, over 20 positions have not been replaced,” he said.
In a late addition to the agenda, the board accepted, with regret, the resignation for purposes of retirement from Margaret Plauny, aLathrop St.learning support teacher.
Ognosky said Plauny does not have the years of service to collect district retirement incentives.
“She is a very good teacher and professional,” he said. “She has been an outstanding addition to theLathrop St.staff and will be missed.”
As with other vacancies created through retirements, the board will examine its staffing needs.
The superintendent said he had recently met separately with State Representatives Sandra Major and Tina Pickett.
He urged the House lawmakers to put the whole Accountability Block Grant money back into the state budget. The State Senate, he said, passed a bill to fund half of the block grant money. Accountability Block Grant funds can be used by school districts to fund full-day kindergarten and early kindergarten programs.
Taxpayers in the district will be offered the option of paying school real estate taxes in installments.
Act 1 provides for approved homestead/farmstead owners to pay in installments. Business manager Michelle Lusk explained that Act 25, passed by the state in 2011, also extends the installment option to small business owners.
The district opted by resolution Monday to extend the installment payment plan option to all district taxpayers.
The finance committee plans to meet Monday night at the Jr. Sr. High School Community Learning Center, following a Building and Grounds meeting at7 p.m.
Leatherstocking Gas will also present information regarding the potential of bringing natural gas service to the district on Monday evening. The meeting is open to the public.
Board member George Gow said the district could see an overwhelming amount of savings by converting the high school and Lathrop St. Elementary buildings to natural gas.
Gow said, “It’s an opportunity to bring savings to the district and to some of the people who supply tax money to the district. Numerous places could benefit if we did this. It’s a way for us to give back to a portion of the community.”
Leatherstocking is looking to act as a local distributor of natural gas in the Montrose,ForestLakeandBridgewaterareas in theMontroseSchool District.
The board accepted, with regret, the resignation of James Hinds as the head Boys and Girls Tennis Coach, effective at the end of the spring sports’ season.
Ognosky said, “This is a big loss for us. He’s done an outstanding job. He brought a lot of class to the program.”
The superintendent said that, in addition to his work with Montrose tennis, Hinds was recognized by the U.S. Tennis Association and worked “tirelessly” with not just Montrose players, but players from the surrounding area as well.
Sean Madden was appointed as the Varsity Boys Basketball Coach; and Domenick Lucenti was appointed as the Varsity Wrestling Coach. Both will start at the entry level salary of $4,270 in the positions.
The revised school calendar was adopted as follows: May 31, June 1 and 4 will be regular full days of school; school will dismiss at11:30 a.m.on June 5 and 6. June 6 is the last day of school for students. June 7 is an in-service day for teachers.
Ognosky noted there are only two half days of school at the end of the year.
Graduation will be held Saturday, June 9, at11 a.m.in the high school stadium. In case of inclement weather, graduation will be moved to the auditorium.
Prior to the start of the business meeting, the board paused for a moment of silence in recognition of the death of Mountain View Board President James Zick.
Junior High student Joni Host was recognized with the Ray Kroc Achievement Award, presented by McDonald’s. She is the daughter of Bill and Kathy Host.
The Lady Meteor basketball team and coaches were recognized for their accomplishments by Rep. Sandra Major and Commissioner Alan Hall. Major presented the team and the school with citations from the State House; and Hall presented citations on behalf of the Susquehanna County Commissioners.