School tax rate capped for 2012-13 in Greencastle-Antrim

PAT FRIDGEN

Any property tax increase to support the Greencastle-Antrim School District will not exceed two mills for the 2012-13 budget, and could be zero, emphasized business manager Richard Lipella after the board voted not to exceed the state index.

The vote came at the Nov. 17 regular meeting of the board of school directors.

 Supporting the limit were Melinda Cordell, Howard Ritchey, Mike Shindle, Joel Fridgen, Paul Politis, Brian Hissong and William Thorne. Kristy Faulkner voted no. Eric Holtzman was absent.

Faulkner wanted to know the impact the restraint could have on the district. "I don't know how you can say what you won't do if you don't know the numbers."

Truant officer adjustments

With no truant officer this year, victim of budget cuts, the school board appointed Debbie Timmons as district truant officer. The move was a formality for the responsibilities she was assigned at the beginning of the school year. Formerly secretary for superintendent Dr. C. Gregory Hoover, she is now in charge of student accounting and truancy issues. The school board action allowed her to issue summons for students with over three unlawful absences a year.

Hoover said positions within the central office were reconfigured, and a former front end receptionist now serves as his secretary and handles substitute teachers.  Some student absentee problems can't be addressed as fully as in the past due to time constraints, Hoover stated, but "We'll still take care of those who are habitually truant, just like we always have."

Timmons' work with student accounting includes a new mandated program, Pennsylvania Information Management System. "No one anticipated the work involved," he continued. "She has to submit monthly reports to the state on teachers, students and curriculum."

Other business

During the worksession, the facilities rental fee discussion continued. High school principal Ed Rife explained the different charges, either hourly or daily, for rooms of various sizes, the stadium and fields, utilities and personnel. Two changes were made from a chart presented at the last meeting. Non-profit groups that donated all proceeds from an activity to a school booster club would move to Group B, and not have to pay a rental fee. Also, area non-profits in Group C would pay a reduced rental fee that included electricity.

The school wanted to break even on facility usage by student and school-related organizations, and community non-profits. The charge to commercial groups would yield a profit. The matter will be voted on at the Dec. 1 meeting.

The resignations for the purposes of retirement at the end of the school year were accepted from Edmund Wingert, Barbara Grane and Jane Kormanski.

Director of education Bob Crider and primary school principal Angela Singer were authorized to attend a four-day workshop in Hershey at a cost of $99 each. The purpose is to learn about the Standards Aligned System, a Pennsylvania Department of Education comprehensive approach to supporting student achievement.

Hoover mused, "It was sort of a bait-and-switch. The state said it was free and at the last minute charged $99."

The administration is confident there won't be any other costs to the district.

Goodbye

Board president Fridgen thanked the outgoing board members Ritchey, Politis and Faulkner. He presented Ritchey a Certificate of Appreciation from the Pennsylvania School Board Association for his 16 years of service.