Montrose adopts $23.8M final budget

BY PAT FARNELLI

The Montrose Area School Board approved a $23.8 million budget for the 2013-14 school year on Thursday during a special meeting.

Superintendent Mike Ognosky said that it was about $50,000 more than the preliminary budget approved a month ago.

Ognosky said that the reason for the increase was primarily because of teachers in the district earning college credits and moving up in step placements on the union salary scale.

The board also voted to commit funds in order to offset state retirement cost increases.

“There was a $189,168 total shortfall, which was taken from the district’s committed fund balance, in order to address the increased pension costs in the final approved 2013-14 budget,” he said.

The board voted to approve the utilization of this committed fund balance.

Ognosky said that this budget did not take into account any state education budget decisions yet to come. “If anything happens adjusting for pension or cyber schools in state budgets…we will have to reconvene if that happens,” he said.

Board President Chris Caterson added, “I’m hopeful $50-,to-$60 or $70,000 can be put back into the fund after that meeting, which is on July 10.”

Tax rates were set at 43.5 mills of assessed valuation on real estate. $5 per capita Act 679, $5 per capita Act 511, 75 mills of assessed valuation, raising taxes one half of one mill for real estate transfer. They also set real estate tax collection periods and penalties.
Caterson said that raising the real estate tax one half of one percent, will provide the district with $108,000 of additional revenue. “We have cut 25 positions over the past few years,” he said. “If the government’s point is to get us to cut to the bone, it has been accomplished.”
Ognosky said, “Of the taxes, only the real estate has been raised half a mill, the rest all remained the same.”
Board member George Gow said, “I would like to thank all of the staff and administrators that have worked on this budget, I commend them for their dedication.”
The Homestead Farmstead exclusion assessed value was set at $8,015 for a tax dollar value of $348.65.
The board approved the re-enactment of exonerations of paying per capita and/or occupation taxes for taxpayers 65 years of age or older.
The school board also approved a decision to eliminate the Dean of Students’ position at the high school effective June 30. This position was created on a trial basis for two years.
“Now, with the increased state mandate for teacher evaluation, the position will need to become an administrative, supervisory position able to conduct teacher evaluations,” Ognosky said. “He could not, as dean of students, evaluate teachers, so we decided to change the position to an assistant principal position so that he can do teacher evaluations.”
This will be a 260-day position effective July 1, at a salary of $67,000 with fringe benefits.
Molly Nasser was hired as a summer school junior/senior high English teacher at the contracted rate of $29.08 per hour.
The board accepted with regret the resignation of Melissa Freethy as SADD adviser.
Ognosky noted that Freethy, a high school English teacher, is also newspaper adviser.
“She became a mom this morning,” he announced.
The board voted to grant tenure to Freethy and to Ryan Griffiths, also a teacher in the high school.