EDUCATION

School board examines budget for renovations, salaries

PAT FRIDGEN

Some hard numbers hit the Greencastle-Antrim School District school board last Thursday. The group looked at the impact to taxpayers for the pending building project, as well as statistics from the Finance Committee concerning the 2011-2012 budget.

EI Associates, the district's architectural firm, presented three schematic designs in response to the board's request for what could be done to the middle and high schools for $21 million. The answers ranged from $21 million to $29 million, with state aid reshaping the value of local money spent.

The least expensive plan qualified for minimal reimbursement from the state, and would mean a 7.67 increase to the mill rate. Option 2 at $24.5 million would necessitate a tax increase of 7.29 mills. The final choice was a renovation that would add 8 mills to the tax base. State reimbursements were higher for the latter two, due to the amount of remodeling in the package.

The middle school was built in 1967 with an addition in 1996. Among recommendations in EI's feasibility study were: remove excessive glass windows and replace with an insulated filter, $880,000; replace classroom ventilators, $754,000; replace water pipes, $270,000; upgrade electrical service, $83,400; meet Americans with Disabilities Act standards, $486,300; and meet fire suppression system code, $506,000.

The high school was built in 1959. Additions came in 1993-94. According to EI, the exterior had no deficiencies. It recommended changes inside such as: upgrade or replace ventilators, $169,000; replace kitchen water and sewer lines, $45,760; meet ADA standards, $814,600; and meet fire suppression system code, $709,650.

In June the board authorized EI to prepare information for the project, called Connector Addition and Alterations, for the Pennsylvania Department of Education. The plan submitted Oct. 21 also called for closing the space between the two schools to join the dining areas and health services in the west wing. The number of classrooms would be increased from 58 to 81.

EI will come back with details on what would be done with the extra funds for option 3.

Finance Committee report

Committee members Eric Holtzman, Joel Fridgen, Kristy Faulkner and business manager Richard Lipella had reviewed the initial draft of next year's budgets and offered some thoughts based on current available information.

With no mill increase to meet operating expenses, income would rise less than $1 million in 2011-2012. Yet, to meet contractual obligations for salaries and benefits of personnel, $1.5 million was needed. If no changes were made in expenses to cover the shortfall, the committee wrote, a 10.9 mill increase would be required.

The problem would escalate the following two years, when district contributions to the Public School Employees Retirement System would add 29.2 mills unless the legislature changed its formula.