Canon-McMillan approves preliminary budget

April 14, 2014
Canon-McMillan parent Rochele Reitlinger asks the school board not to pass a proposed redistricting plan. The board will vote next week on the plan. - Karen Mansfield / Observer-Reporter Order a Print

The Canon-McMillan School Board approved a preliminary 2014-15 budget Monday that includes an increase in the real estate tax rate.

The tentative $76,544,175 operating budget calls for a 1.5 mill increase.

The biggest factor contributing to the budget woes are Public School Employees’ Retirement System contributions, which are estimated to cost an additional $1.4 million in 2014-15, according to director of business and finance Joni Mansmann.

There is also an expected 5 percent increase in the cost of health benefits for employees, Mansmann said.

Another large expense is the cost of insurance, which continues to rise, specifically in the areas of school director and workers compensation insurance. The deductible for school director insurance ballooned from between $5,000 and $10,000 in the past couple of years to $50,000 in 2013-14.

“The biggest thing, though, is the PSERS. If it weren’t for that, we would have been able to balance the budget and have money left over,” said Mansmann.

If the board passes the preliminary budget in its present form, the property tax rate would increase from 107 mills to 108.5 mills.

The budget must be adopted before June 30.

Also Monday, Canon-McMillan resident Rochele Reitlinger asked the school district not to approve a proposed redistricting plan the board is scheduled to vote on at its April 22 meeting.

The board is considering “microdistricting,” which included transferring 50 elementary school students to neighboring schools. The plan, according to assistant superintendent Scott Chambers, will alleviate crowded classrooms and, said Mansmann, will save the district $500,000 by eliminating the need for portable classrooms and hiring additional teachers.

The board delayed voting on the redistricting at its March 17 meeting, and instead held a parent information session where parents provided input and ideas regarding redistricting.

Superintendent Michael Daniels said that, as a result of the meeting, and additional input from parents, the district added a transition plan that outlines how the district will help students affected by the redistricting to adjust to their new school.

“We formed a transition plan using parents’ input and information, to make the transition to the new buildings easy and smooth for kids affected,” said Daniels.

Reitlinger has a daughter who is scheduled to begin kindergarten in the fall and under the redistricting plan will attend Muse Elementary School instead of Cecil.

Karen Mansfield is an award-winning journalist and mom of five who has been a staff writer for the Observer-Reporter since 1988. She enjoys reading, the Pittsburgh Steelers, a good glass of wine and nice people.

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