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Cornell announces tax increase

For the fourth straight year, the Cornell school district was ranked the top overachieving school district by the Pittsburgh Business Times. The survey highlights districts outperforming expectations based on economic opportunities.

Superintendent Aaron Thomas, Cornell Superintendent, made the announcement at the May 20 school board meeting. Although no members of the public were present, they were given the opportunity to view the meeting virtually.

“We were ecstatic to get number one for the fourth year in a row. It’s a testament to the teachers, staff and the good people who work here,” said Thomas. “We have a very amazing school district that works together.”

“You hear the reports of all the wonderful stuff going on. It’s a well-oiled machine,” said Karen Murphy, school board president.

In other Cornell news:

Tax hike — School officials approved the 2021/2022 general fund budget May 20 calling for a real estate tax rate increase of 0.852 mills to 24.52. The increase means property owners will owe about $245.57 annually, or $8.52 more in property taxes, based on an assessed value of $100,000. The budget includes revenues of $15.4 million and expenditures of $15.3 million.

“We have not raised taxes in three years,” according to Treasurer Stephanie Mazzocco.

Class adjustments – Overall staffing levels will not be affected by the Cornell board’s unanimous decision to eliminate a section of first grade and one section of third grade. In their place, a second-grade elementary section and a secondary special education position will be created.

Contract approvals – A new four-year contract was approved for the district’s Director of Technology Kris Hupp, while James Peters, athletic trainer, was awarded a new three-year agreement through 2024. The board also approved a one-year extension for Athletic Director William Sacco.

Commencement — Cornell’s graduation ceremony is scheduled for June 4, at 6:30 p.m. in the high school auditorium. “It was a very good year. We all made this work,” Carla Antoniades, special education supervisor, said.

– Carrie Moniot, freelance writer

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