Sto-Rox hikes tax rate, Montour boosts staffing
By Alice Crow & Elizabeth Perry
Carlynton, Cornell, Montour and Sto-Rox have all approved final budget proposals for the 2022-23 school year, with Cornell and Sto-Rox both proposing tax raises. Each of the four districts has been buoyed by millions of dollars of federal funding that will continue to pour in over the next few years from COVID-19 relief programming.
The Sto-Rox School Board passed a $32.72 million proposed final budget during their May 19 meeting. Six members voted for the preliminary budget and two were against. The final budget vote will be finalized at the June 23 meeting.
New board member, Kimberly Spriggs, voted for the budget. Spriggs was sworn in on May 16, the same day as new Superintendent Megan Van Fossan. The dissenting votes were cast by Ken Hohman and board president Cameron Culliver.
Culliver said in an interview after the meeting there wasn’t enough time to review prior to the vote. The board received the budget fewer than three days prior, and Culliver said he didn’t want to agree to something he didn’t “100%” understand.
Hohman said he thought the proposed budget was good but he couldn’t approve the 1.33 mills property tax increase called for in the budget.
“I’m against raising taxes,” Hohman said, going on to explain that any increase would be a burden on an already cash-strapped community. Hohman said he knew the proposed budget would pass, and his dissenting vote was largely symbolic.
Montour School District's Board of Directors approved a $77 million proposed 2022-2023 budget during the May 19 meeting. There was a 2.81% overall budget increase, reflecting just under $2 million in additional revenues compared to the 2021-2022 budget.
That additional revenue was distributed unevenly across budget sectors. The highest increase was 26.21% in the human resource department, equaling an additional $114,500 for increased substitute staffing costs.
The curriculum department will also see a budget increase of over 20%, meaning $55,500 additional funds will be used to improve the health and foreign language curriculums in the district.
The facilities department will receive a budget increase of 20.73%, totaling around $2.6 million for the department’s facility upgrades and maintenance.
A 10.99% budget increase for the pupil services department will provide $307,800 more for special education due to the recent increase in special needs students within the district.
The school district will continue to use its Covid-relief funding, totaling a little more than $5 million originally, into 2024 for academic recovery programming and software, special education needs, fine arts expansion, social worker positions and support for disadvantaged students.
Additionally, 80% of the general fund expenditures will continue to go towards salaries, benefits, and the district's debt.
In other budgetary school news:
• Carlynton’s board approved a $34.36 million proposed budget May 19 with the millage rate set at 26.7432. A full copy of the spending plan could not be obtained prior to printing.
• Cornell’s board approved a $15.86 million proposed budget May 19, with the millage rate set at 25.107, reflecting an increase of .58 mills. A full copy of the spending plan could not be obtained prior to printing.