Mountain View holds off on approval of tentative budget

BY TOM FONTANA
Correspondent

The expected approval of a budget proposal was held off by the Mountain View school board at its meeting Monday night.

Board member Dava Rinehart-Cowan asked that a tentative budget for 2013-14 be delayed for further discussion, and the board agreed.

A special meeting will be held Tuesday, May 28, 7 p.m., when it is expected a vote will be taken to make the proposed budget available for public scrutiny for 30 days before a decision is make on final passage by the end of June.

The budget that would have been presented Monday offered a bottom line of $18,047,684, based on projected revenue from a 35.8 mills real estate tax, an Occupational Assessment Tax at 100 mills, a one percent Earned Income Tax, and a one percent Real Estate Transfer tax.

District business manager Joseph Patchkoski told the board that that tentative budget total does not include figures for the ‘acquisition’ of additional teachers, as requested by school administrators, or administrative staff salaries. However, it does include support staff salaries based on recent contract negotiations.

“We could be looking at a deficit of about $1.1 million,” Patchkoski said, “but that’s before dipping into the fund balance from last year, which includes gas lease payments.”

Maintenance director Robert Taylor reported on a proposal by Johnson Controls Inc., the third company Taylor has consulted concerning an upgrade of security at the district’s two school buildings. The other two companies are NRG and Tri-Guard.

He told the board that the widest discrepancy between the three companies was the number of security cameras included in their proposals.

“Two of the companies proposed around 90 cameras around the high school, and about 40 at the elementary building,” he explained. “Tri-Guard offered 56 cameras at the high school and about 26 at the elementary.”

He also said Tri-Guard would use much of the existing security apparatus, and wire instead of fiber optics, which he stated would affect the speed and clarity of the system.

“Tri-Guard does not include a panic button as the others do,” he added. “A panic button pushed by a staffer would immediately dial 911 and put the security cameras at their highest resolution. Tri-Guard also does not offer a camera at the building entrance intercom.”

Some board members were concerned with the differences between the proposals of the three companies. “We’re looking at a large amount of money here,” commented Rinehart-Cowan.

Director Roy Twining suggested the companies be approached with some compromises. “Let’s see if Johnson Controls can come up with a plan with fewer cameras,” he suggested, “somewhere between their proposal and Tri-Guard’s.”

The board approved a proposal by high school principal Robert Presley to change the program of studies from general and academic classes to academic and honors classes, with a grade requirementof 93 percent or higher for placement in honors classes. The change also allows an option for parents to override a decision by the school not to place their student in an advanced class based on grade point average. The changes will become effective starting with 2013-14.

In other business:
*Family Health Clinic of Barnes Kasson, Susquehanna, was appointed as the school medical facility for 2013-14 at a rate of $75 per hour for health and sports physicals.

*The board reappointed attorney Joseph Gaughan of Scranton as district solicitor, and Diane Makosky as board secretary for 2013-14, and tabled the appointment of a district treasurer.

*The board removed from the agenda the appointment of several coaching staff positions for next season.