First Posted: 7/3/2013
The Wyoming Area School Board passed its final 2013-2014 budget at its June 27 meeting.
The $30,150,108 budget includes a 2.3 percent property tax increase on Luzerne County properties. For example, a Luzerne County home assessed at $125,000 and affected by the increase will see an approximate increase of $38.93, whereas a $250,000 home will see a $77.85 increase.
The school district’s fund balance as of July 1 is $4 million, but is projected to fall to $3.4 million on June 30, 2014.
The budget was passed 5-4 with John Bolin, Frank Casarella, Gil Dominick, Deanna Farrell and John Marianacci voting for it and Mary Louise Degnan, Estelle Campenni, Carl Yorina Jr. and Elizabeth Gober-Mangan voting against it.
The new rate reflects a tax of 13.8522 mills for the Boroughs of Exeter, Exeter Township in Luzerne County, West Pittston, West Wyoming and Wyoming.
Properties located in Exeter Township in Wyoming County will see a 0.5 percent reduction on their property tax rate. The reduction is a result of a comparison adjustment of the area’s property values. The new tax for this area will be 76.9683 mills. One mill represents $1 of tax for every $1,000 of assessed taxable property value.
Teachers from the district are planning a strike for September 3, if a collective bargaining agreement cannot be reached. The past three years, the teachers have worked under an expired agreement.
Business Manager Tom Melone said that a strike could potentially be avoided if the board agrees to use some of the funds in the fund balance or place some of the expenditures on hold.
There was a lengthy dispute during the meeting regarding a motion to spend an excess of $100,000 to redesign the entrance to the secondary center building.
Visitors currently have limited access into the building.
The redesign would make it impossible to enter the building without first being observed by a camera, and then the person would need to be admitted by an electronic buzzer system used at the discretion of an office or faculty member.
Both sides of the disagreement were voiced by board members as well as by the public.
Board member Estelle Campenni stated that she felt that the board is willing to “spend one half of the budget out of fear” (referencing the Dec. 14 Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting incident in Connecticut.)
Solicitor Jarrett Ferentino looked at spending the money as a safety precaution for students as well as for faculty members.
Ferentino brought up the fact that the redesigned safety entrance would keep non-custodial parents from freely contacting their children at the school, even prevent a possible kidnapping situation. It would also provide a secure work environment for faculty members who may have a violent estranged partner wishing to cause them harm.
The motion was tabled by the board.
The board accepted the resignations of special education teacher Amanda Casale, as well as head baseball coach Chick Andrewscavage.
It was reported that Mrs. Marianacci conducted a Language Academy where 38 elementary students participated in the Spanish Language Academy. The program ran from June 17 to 21.
The board plans to advertise for the job of superintendent at the August meeting, as current superintendent Raymond Bernardi plans to retire and the end of the 2013-2014 school year.