Greencastle-Antrim School Board facing $1.5 million deficit for 2015-16

PAT FRIDGEN, Echo Pilot

A zero mill increase is part of the 2015-2016 proposed final budget of the Greencastle-Antrim School District, along with a $1.5 million deficit. School board members Eric Holtzman, Tracy Baer, Linda Farley, Jim Winslow, Mike Still, Melinda Cordell, Ken Haines and Lura Hanks approved the plan, which will now be advertised for public review. Brian Hissong was absent from the May 7 meeting. The board will vote on the final budget June 18.

Business manager Jolinda Wilson presented the budget with no real estate tax increase, as directed by the board. However, she recommended levying additional mills to fight the fixed increases in health insurance premiums, PSERS, special education and other rising expenses.

The budget included adding an assistant principal at the elementary school to work with the 1,400 students. The number of administrative positions remained the same, though, since the role of retiring Molly Moran, director of reading and federal programs, was not being replaced. Dr. Bob Crider, chief educational officer, would assume some of the duties due to the hiring of a director of special education this year.

The budget included a two percent raise for employees, with the exception of administrators and faculty. Their salaries were not discussed.

Crider reported on the growing class sizes, with upper elementary projected at 28 or 29 students.

The proposed budget was approved 7-1, with Winslow opposed.

The board unanimously approved a resolution to accept financing for energy efficiency and related capital projects through the sale of $9.9 million in General Obligation Bonds.

Jamie Doyle from Public Financial Management said a competitive internet auction that morning had drawn 27 bids.

"There was so much competition, a lot of leap-frogging, which drove the interest rate down," she said.

The final number was 2.92 percent. Settlement will be June 11.

Mark Gallick, account manager for McClure Company, presented the costs for extra projects on campus, if the board wanted them done also. The Facilities Committee will make recommendations. Gallick said demolition of the boilers in the high school had already begun. Most of the energy upgrades will be conducted over the summer.