Elk Lake board approves $18.8M budget

BY JEFFREY HORVATH
Times Shamrock Correspondent

The Elk Lake School Board on Thursday approved an $18.8 million budget for 2014-15 that will see a modest increase in taxes.

Elementary principal Kenneth Cuomo, who was set to be superintendent come July 1, noted the final budget was $18,769,108.14, which is $538,584 more than last year.

According to Cuomo, a large majority of the increase comes from pension and retirement, which increased by $378,826.

The new budget will require an increase of 1.11 mills for property holders on the Susquehanna County side of the district resulting in a total of 39.42 mills. For property owners in Meshoppen Borough and Meshoppen Twp. in Wyoming County, here will be an increase of 1.4 mills, resulting in a total of 44.74 mills.

The SCCTC also approved a $5.49 million budget for 2014-15 which represents a $560,385 increase from last year. The increase is mostly due to expenses from the creation of additional programs and staffing.

There will be no increase in taxation, as the SCCTC is paid for by tuition from contributing schools and other sources.

Paul Murphy of Moscow, presented an audit report for last year when Elk Lake brought in $18,014,000. The school only budgeted $17,421,000, resulting in a positive variance of about $600,000. That being said, Elk Lake spent in excess of their budget by about $380,333, resulting in a total increase in the fund balance by $219,667.

Murphy said that the increase in revenue is likely due to the fact that “tax collection was good.”

The board voted unanimously to approve the creation of a multi-disability classroom at Elk Lake.

According to special education director Pamela Staats, a similar program used to be in place at Susquehanna High School, but it was cancelled due to lack of need. Currently, there are students entering kindergarten at Elk Lake who would need to utilize the classroom, and if Elk Lake chose not to proceed with the creation of the classroom those students would have to be bussed either to Dunmore or Mayfield.

According to Cuomo, several other schools have already contacted Elk Lake to express interest in sending students to use the classroom, which would offset the cost. In addition to approving the proposal, the board also voted unanimously to post a position for the class.

The board voted unanimously to approve the hiring of individuals for several positions: Carly Dibble was approved for a 10-month secretary position; Robert Gagliardi was approved for a full-time physical education position at $40,000; Julianne Brudnicki was approved for a full-time elementary position at $40,000; James Booth was approved for a Special Education Position pending the completion of the necessary tests; and Michelle Oakes was approved for the position of Title I Coordinator.

During last month’s meeting several concerned members of the Elk Lake community came before the board to express concerns with rumors that the gym stage was to be reconstructed into a weight room.
Cuomo addressed the issue on Thursday.

“I know that this is an issue that some feel very strongly about,” Cuomo said, “and because of that I would like to ask the board to hold on this issue so that I have more of an opportunity to investigate all of our options.”

Cuomo explained that he became involved in the stage issue late in the process, and that he would like more time to make an informed recommendation.

He said he would return to the board with his recommendation by January or February.

Prior to the start of the meeting an Elk Lake diploma was awarded to Allen John Wilbur, who would have graduated from the Rush School in 1956.
Wilbur spent 17 years in the military, during which time he earned three bronze stars.

According to Cuomo, “this diploma is long overdue.”

The board also recognized SCCTC para-educator Laurie Ellis, who received the Outstanding Para-Educator of the Year award.

Lunch prices for the 2014-2015 school year will increase by 10 cents across the board. School breakfast prices will increase from 85 cents to $1.

The next meeting of the Elk Lake School Board is tentatively scheduled for July 23.