The East at a glance

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Budget holds tax line, contains furloughs

The East Allegheny school board on Monday night approved a $30,018,484 preliminary budget for the 2011-2012 school year that would hold real estate taxes at 27.54 mills.

The budget is actually lower than the $30,867,038 budget provided for the current year, which ends June 30. Business manager Toni Valicenti said the retirement of 11 teachers, some of whom were not replaced, and the fact that health care costs did not increase helped keep the budget numbers down.

The district is awaiting approval from the State Department of Education for the furloughs of a number of district employees, made to deal with proposed cuts of $1.3 million in state funding.

In March, the board decided to go from full-day to half-day kindergarten after a $440,000 state accountability block grant that helped pay for full-day kindergarten was eliminated. The board also furloughed three kindergarten teachers, one school nurse, one elementary physical education teacher and a middle school teacher in March.

In April, the board decided not to refill the positions of one middle school principal and one elementary guidance counselor who are retiring this year.

Directors also decided not to rehire one cafeteria worker and one secretary who are considered substitutes in their jobs at the Early Learning Center.

The board will vote on its final budget in June.

n The school board Monday voted to send a resolution to Harrisburg opposing Senate Bill 1, which would create a system of tax vouchers that would allow parents to send their children to private schools and to public schools outside of their own districts.

In March, Toni Valicenti said the district already pays out about $850,000 in tuition for district students going to charter schools. During the 2009-2010 school year, tuition was paid for 103 students going to 13 charter schools, she said. The state had reimbursed the district for about 30 percent of the cost, but the new state budget does not include that money.


Online academy to start in new school year

The school district will start eCat Online Academy for students in grades seven-12 in the start of the new school year in late August.

The academy will offer a full online program and a blended approach, a combination of online and in-person classes with access to faculty available to all students.

The online academy will provide flexible learning opportunities for students, which include online coursework and the opportunity to participate in all middle and high school activities, such as student clubs, the performing arts and athletics.

For details about grades seven-nine, call Jeff Ingel at 724-539-4265; for grades 10-12, call Matt Smith at 724-539-4225.

n More than 200 people will participate in Adelphoi USA's 26th Annual Adelphoi Golf Classic set for Sunday-Tuesday at Laurel Valley Golf Club and Latrobe Country Club.

Proceeds will benefit the Nellie Briles Fund, named in memory of the late Adelphoi board member and Pittsburgh Pirates pitcher. The fund assists Adelphoi youth in developing life skills.

The three-day event kicks off Sunday with the Spirit of Hope Reception and Auction, which begins at 5:30 p.m. at Arnold Palmer's home course -- Latrobe Country Club. The Fred Rogers family will be honored with the Arnold Palmer Spirit of Hope Award during the cocktail and hors d'oeuvres reception. Events continue Monday and Tuesday with two days of golf at Laurel Valley Golf Club.

Details: Carol Palcic at 724-836-5310.


Outdoor dining ordinance approved

Council Tuesday night revised its zoning ordinance to approve outdoor dining for businesses and restaurants. Ordinance number 1443 was amended to allow accessory outdoor dining areas in C-1 commercial shopping districts, C-2 business and commercial districts and C-3 commercial zoning districts.

Outdoors spaces must not exceed 721 square feet, must provide a four foot pathway for pedestrians, cannot come within 100 feet of a residential building, cannot take parking lot space and must operate between the hours of 11 am and 7 pm. The ordinance also provides guidelines for signs and furniture.

• Council honored the Gateway High School boys basketball team, who won the WPIAL Quad-A Championship for the 2010-11 season. Team members received proclamations from local government officials, including a proclamation from Monroeville declaring May 10 to be a day honoring Gateway basketball championship day in the municipality.


Drive scheduled to support food bank

Murrysville-Export Democratic Club will hold a community food drive from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. May 21 in front of Ferri's market to support the Westmoreland County Food Bank in Delmont.

Volunteers will be accepting canned goods of all types (no glass), cereal, fruit juice, pasta, rice and an assortment of paper goods.



Municipal authority gets million-dollar grant

The Municipal Sanitary Authority of New Kensington has received a $1 million state grant. The money comes from Pennsylvania's H2O PA program, which provides grants for infrastructure improvements and is funded through slot machine proceeds.

The grant will be used to construct a new influent pump station and screening facilities to replace the sanitation authority's treatment plant system.


No tax hike; no teacher layoffs

Property owners will not see a tax hike next school year and no teachers will be furloughed despite cuts in state education funding.

Superintendent William Kerr and John Wilson, director of business affairs, presented a proposed 2011-2012 budget Monday night that includes projected expenditures of $56.7 million, a decrease of $1.2 million from the district's current spending plan. Projected revenues are $56.2 million.

The spending plan holds the millage at 67, which includes 1.2 mills for the Public Library, and calls for no property tax millage increase and no furloughs of teachers or others.

Mr. Wilson in February presented a preliminary budget with a projected $3.3 million deficit. Directors pledged not to raise the millage more than the 1.2-mill inflation index set by the state.

Mr. Kerr noted that the district, largely due to a $1.9 million loss in state funding, still faces about a $500,000 shortfall, which directors may offset by tapping a projected $5 million year-end fund balance or by an increase in state subsidies.

Directors are expected to adopt the budget June 20.


No new taxes despite revenue decrease

The school board unanimously approved a preliminary budget of $46.7 million, calling for no increase in real estate taxes, which will remain at 73.25 mills. Brett Lago, director of financial planning and business affairs, said the budget process was one of the "most challenging" ever.

During this fiscal year, revenues decreased by $1.6 million over last year from $47.6 million to $45.9 million. Expenditures decreased by $902,883, including lower overall instructional program costs, a reduction in technology and textbook spending and eight fewer teachers on staff. Spending increased in administrative and health services, transportation and student activities.

The board will vote June 13.


Funds made available for 2012 paving

Wilkins commissioners voted Monday to transfer $400,000 from the 2011 emergency contingency fund to cover costs this year and to provide funds for paving next year. The board authorized the transfer of $300,000 into the 2011 general fund budget; the additional $100,000 will go toward 2012.

Anticipating large deficits, the township had not budgeted funds for paving in 2011.


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