Trinity Area School Board approved the district’s 2014-15 preliminary budget Thursday.
The $51,306,592 spending plan includes a tax rate increase of 2.7 mills, increasing the tax rate from 105 mills to 107.7 mills.
That means homeowners can expect to pay $27 more for every $10,000 of assessed value.
A homeowner with an assessed value of $50,000, for example, can expect to see a $135 tax bill hike.
“The challenge to this budget is there’s no room for error because our fund balance is as low as it is,” said David Roussos, director of fiscal services. The district’s fund balance at the end of the 2013 fiscal year was $941,399, a little less than 2 percent of Trinity’s general fund budget.
Experts recommend school districts maintain a general fund balance of between 3 and 6 percent of the general fund budget, which would fall between $1.5 million to $3 million.
Roussos said the objectives for the 2014-15 budget are to stabilize finances, to ensure the district will finish at budget or better, and to begin to build the fund balance back up the following year.
Expenditures include $2,225,789 for special education services, which have increased rapidly in recent years.
Directors approved the preliminary budget by an 8-0 vote. Director Kerrin McIlvaine was absent.
The school board must vote on a final budget by June 30.
The board also:
• Approved Vocational Agriculture at the high school, effective starting in the 2014-15 school year;
• Voted 7-1 to discontinue its food service contract with Metz Culinary Management Inc. and to advertise for a private food service director. Board member Frances Eates opposed the motion;
• Accepted the resignation of elementary teacher Mollie Deegan, who is retiring at the end of the school year;
• Met fourth- and fifth-students in the gifted program who won first place in the first annual K’Nex STEM Challenge sponsored through the local Intermediate Unit in April. The students, Sean Fagan-Dyer, Noah Heffner, Alexandra Koffler and Emma Malinak, worked to create an environmentally friendly people-mover that used one motor and no more than 1,400 K’Nex pieces. The vehicle also had to overcome a student-designed obstacle. They also competed in the state competition in Harrisburg.