Norwin school board passes final budget; parents complain over cancellation of Disney trip

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Norwin school board on Wednesday night passed a final general fund budget for the 2013-14 school year with expenses of $61.2 million and expected revenues of about $100,000 less than that.

District business manager John Wilson said administrators will use the district's fund balance to cover the $100,000 difference.

At the time directors worked on the preliminary budget, district officials estimated that expenses could exceed revenues by $554,000.

Mr. Wilson said most of the savings was in special education tuition saved when the district took over teaching a learning support classroom formerly taught by the Westmoreland Intermediate Unit, and hired two occupational therapists in-house.

The Westmoreland Intermediate Unit has also become more cost effective in providing services, and the district saved money when eight teachers retired, he said.

At Wednesday's meeting, school real estate taxes for the 2013-14 school year were also set at 69.1 mills in Westmoreland County, an increase of 0.65 mills over the 2012-13 Westmoreland County Norwin tax rate of 68.45 mills.

Norwin lies mostly within Westmoreland County, with a small portion in Allegheny County.

In the Westmoreland County part of the district, the increase on a home with a median assessed value of $21,355 would be about $14, according to a district press release.

After the meeting, Mr. Wilson estimated that total school taxes in Norwin on a home of average assessed value of about $22,500 in the Norwin School District with a market value of about $95,000 would be about $1,550.

A tiny portion of Allegheny County in South Versailles Township and White Oak lies within the Norwin School District, involving 21 households.

Allegheny County taxpayers will see a 3.77-mill decrease in their Norwin school taxes during the 2013-14 school year because of the Allegheny County property reassessment.

According to a press release issued after the meeting, the budget represents a 4.1 percent increase over the current Norwin budget. Mr. Wilson said most of the increase is in payments on district bond issues and contributions to the state retirement system.

During the meeting, directors hired Michael Burrell to serve as the district's new athletic director at a salary of $55,000 per year. Randy Rovesti is retiring from that position.

School board members also hired Timothy Daniels as the new Norwin high school band director and secondary music teacher.

A number of parents and students came to the meeting to object to the board's earlier decision to cancel a trip to Disney World by members of the show choir and Norwin Theatre Club.

James Welsh, his wife, Melissa, and Kyley Klass, student president of the Norwin Theatre Club, all spoke on behalf of the directors restoring the trip, saying the youth workshops provided by the Disney corporation are an invaluable way for students interested in making a career in theater and

other performing arts to find out about the business and marketing aspects of performing.

Mr. Wilson said school directors will probably reconsider the matter at their August workshop meeting. There are no school board meetings in July.

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Anne Cloonan, freelance writer:


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