By Sam Bigham
Carlynton school directors approved a $34.365 million budget with no increase to the district’s millage rate, honored retirees and discussed issues affecting education at the state level during the June 21 meeting.
The 2022-23 spending package made way for enhanced accommodations for students with autism and new visual aides, among other items.
Superintendent John Kreider said the district’s Chill Program would expand to Crafton Elementary.
Carnegie Elementary and the high school already have Chill Rooms, which are spaces designed to allow students to de-stress. The rooms are staffed by mental health professionals.
Kreider also said an additional cross-country coach and life skills/autistic support paraprofessional will be hired for the high school.
New textbooks and resources were purchased through grants and are being trial-tested by teachers, said Edward Mantich, curriculum coordinator for the district. Committees of teachers will grade the resources based on a rubric with criteria such as factoring technology into the classroom and being research-based.
New Promethean Boards with better capabilities will be installed over the summer and the beginning of the new school year. Promethean Boards are digital touch screens that allow instructors to use detailed images in teaching.
Teachers will be trained on the new features, said Joshua Jones, supervisor of information technology.
Local revenue, mostly from property taxes, makes up the largest share of the budget at $21.209 million. The state and federal governments are awarding $10.096 million and $3.059 million to the district. An additional $7.392 million is available through the district’s unreserved fund balance.
Total debt for the district is $13.508 million down $254,351 from $13.763 million during the last academic year. The millage rate will remain the same as the last academic year at 26.7432 so taxes will not be raised on residents living in the school district.
The cost of instruction was approved for $21.228 million.
The cost of support services is $10.285 million and includes administration, transportation and other services.
The cost of the operation of non-instructional services is $819,048 and includes student activities and community service.
The cost of facilities acquisition, construction, and improvement services is $1.385 million. The cost of all other expenditures are $649,306 and includes debt repayment.
Over a dozen school district retirees were honored at the meeting, all having retired during the past three years.
2020 retirees – Frank Zebrasky, high school life skills/autistic support; Mary Ferro, Carnegie Elementary music/gifted teacher; Lisa Rowley, high school physical education; Katie Kovach, administrative assistant to the superintendent; Nancy McMullin, Crafton Elementary paraprofessional; Maria Apicella, high school food service; and Sharon Daley, Crafton Elementary playground aide.
2021 retiree – Darlene Hatcher, high school custodian.
2022 retirees –Sheree Lee, elementary guidance counselor; Susan Cantwell, Carnegie Elementary teacher; Kimberly Holdcroft, acounts payable/transportation; Michele Herrmann, administrative assistant to the superintendent; Jeanne Byerly, elementary nurse assistant; and
Jo Ann Jurczak, high school food service.
“Thank you for being such a positive role model to our students,” Kreider said to the retirees and their families in attendance. He especially thanked food workers at the event.
“You helped feed our kids during a critical time,” he said.
Christine Simcic, who is the district’s legislative and Pennsylvania School Board Association representative among other positions, reported that the state government will have a surplus of between $13 and $15 billion during the fiscal year.
“We need people to lobby and advocate for funding for education,” she said, noting charter school tuition, pensions, and special education services remain expensive. However, she and the PSBA expects the Republican-controlled state legislatures to focus on bills related to arming school teachers and school vouchers which Simcic said will be vetoed by the governor anyway.
Simic said the legislatures will also likely try to reduce the corporate net income tax.
Urging attendees to contact their state legislators, she asked “If we have the money to reduce the corporate net income tax, why can’t we invest it in kids and our future?”