In a split vote, Peters Township school directors on Monday approved a $53.26 million final spending plan for next year with a property tax increase of 1.7 mills.
The final budget was shaved slightly from a $53.33 million preliminary budget passed last month, and it includes $1.07 million in technology spending, $352,024 in curriculum expenses and $2.48 million for capital projects.
Voting in favor of the final budget were Thomas McMurray, Sue Smith, William Merrell, Ronald Dunleavy, Sandra Gregg and Cindy Golembiewski. Dissenting were David Hvizdos, Lori Cuervo and Lynn Erenberg.
The tax increase was the maximum allowed by state law and brings the district's total millage rate to 102 mills, the third lowest rate in Washington County, behind Brownsville and California Area school districts.
The tax hike translates into an increase of about $60 per year for a homeowner paying $2,000 in real estate taxes, or an increase of $119 for someone paying $4,000 a year in taxes.
Along with the expenses for next year, the district set aside $8 million in a fund balance to pay for an anticipated increase in its contribution to the Pennsylvania Public School Employees Retirement System and debt service payments. An additional $3.19 million will be maintained as an undesignated fund balance to be used for emergencies.
The budget also includes salary raises for administrators, approved 8-1 by the board Monday, including increases of 150 percent of teacher salary increases. The calculation means that for each $1 increase given to a teacher this year, $1.50 will be given to every administrator, including building principals and assistant principals and central office administrators. The raises are called for in employee contracts and they vary based on performance evaluations given by the superintendent. Also Monday, the board unanimously voted to create several new teaching positions to address a continuing influx of students. The new positions include technology education and social studies in the high school; health and physical education positions in the middle school; special education, gifted, health and art positions in the elementary schools.
The board also voted to continue its arrangement with the Peters Police Department for a school resource officer next year. The district pays about $65,000 per year for Officer Jim Stevick to patrol district buildings during school hours.
After hearing from the district engineers at HHSDR Inc. of Downtown, directors approved a change order of $77,918 for the replacement of artificial turf at the high school stadium. The district had hoped to make repairs to the existing surface, but it was determined that deterioration was so advanced that repairs wouldn't be cost effective.
The board also accepted the resignation of district technology director Patrick "Duke" Maloy, the sixth high-level administrator to leave in the past year and a half.
The board thanked acting superintendent Joseph Dimperio, who has filled in the leadership position since former superintendent Nina Zetty departed late last year for a job at Gateway School District. Mr. Dimperio will hand over the reigns on Monday to new superintendent Jeannine French, who was hired at a school board meeting two weeks ago.
"I think that Jeannine French is going to take the district to a new level," said Mr. Dimperio, a retired consultant who did not seek the permanent job.
Mr. Dimperio received two rounds of applause from directors and audience members.
Also Monday, the board awarded several contracts, including:
• About $300,000 in new textbook purchases from various publishers.
• A $104,824 bid from Dagistino Electric Services Inc. for a new phone system.
• A $14,938 bid from HE Neuman to repair the air-handler unit of the high school natatorium.
• A $9,974 bid from Dobil to replace the control board of the high school fire alarm system.
• A $6,222 bid from Dobil to upgrade the security and fire alarm system at the high school.
• A $6,439 bid from Siemens Industry for repairs to the direct digital control panel at McMurray Elementary School.
Janice Crompton: firstname.lastname@example.org or 12-851-1867.