LEWISTOWN - As the Mifflin County School District continues to wade through the 2012-13 budget process, frustrations abound at a perceived lack of support from the state legislature in Harrisburg.
During a Committee-of-the-Whole meeting of the Mifflin County School Board on Thursday, Superintendent James Estep presented the board with a resolution he hopes it will consider adopting during its regular monthly business meeting April 26 and send it to the General Assembly.
In the resolution, the board is asking the Commonwealth to "fulfill its constitutional obligation to its system of public education by ending the fiscal demands on school boards to increase local property taxes in order to accommodate the shortfall in state funding, which has been imposed."
"Basically, the state needs to come up with its constitutional share and shift the burden away from property owners," Estep told the board.
The resolution also petitions the General Assembly to "take the obligatory action necessary to eradicate the bundling of subsidies, which up until this time, have had their reimbursable amounts calculated through the use of fair and equitable formulas."
The resolution notes that the Pennsylvania constitution says, "The General Assembly shall provide for the maintenance and support of a thorough and efficient system of public education to serve the needs of the Commonwealth. Expectations for success and requirements inherent in developing positive student accomplishment do not diminish during times of economic difficulty but rather require more investment of available resources."
The resolution states that last year's state budget reduced the basic education funding reimbursement to 2008-09 levels, level-funded special education reimbursements for a fourth consecutive year, and eliminated the appropriation for accountability block grants, charter school reimbursement, school implementation grants, education assistance programs, elementary science programs and dual enrollment programs."
Walter Harpster, board president, commented, "I know you have brought these resolutions to the board in the past but this time I plan on voting in favor of it and I hope the rest of you do as well."
Board member Beth Laughlin said she would be in favor of adopting a resolution that was more locally-based, as did Mary Lou Sigler, who commented, "I believe we should do something on our own but I think we also need to support this resolution."
In other business Thursday, Nancy Craig, the district's director of transportation, announced the transportation study approved several months ago by the board was received Thursday afternoon. She said she hasn't had sufficient time to look at all the details of the plan, which was requested following multiple problems involving school bus wait times and lengths of bus rides that occurred as a result of the district's reorganization prior to the current school year.
Craig said she has already seen several logistical problems with the study upon initial perusal, however, she added that most of those items can be tweaked internally.
Estep said, "I believe the study has done a pretty decent job in student wait times but there are a lot of aspects that still need to be looked at."
He asked members of the board to take some time to review the results, which will then be discussed at a later time.
Other items scheduled to be on the agenda for the April 26 business meeting include:
A recommendation to eliminate the district contribution toward the cost of Advanced Placement exams effective with the 2012-13 school year. Currently, the district covers half the cost of the tests and the savings would amount to $5,557 based on the number of students taking the tests this year, according to Director of Secondary Education Vance Varner. Varner added the AP exam is optional and is not required for students to receive high school credits.
A recommendation to revise the district-wide feasibility study completed last year to include the EPA Energystar Portfolio Tracking and the proposed Plancon A&B improvement project at Indian Valley Elementary School for reimbursement purposes.
A recommendation to accept the resignation of Robert Romig, multi-craft maintenance, effective May 25 due to retirement.
A recommendation to raise student parking fees at the high school from $30 to $50 effective next school year.
A recommendation to restructure the hearing-impaired and visually-impaired teacher positions to combine and hire a single dual-certified person for the newly-combined position.
Recommended approval of a change order, in the amount of $3,895, to increase soft surface play area by 100 square yards at the playground for Lewistown Intermediate School and reduce the hard surface play area by 100 square yards.
A recommendation to accept the resignation of Vaughn Crosson, custodian at Mifflin County Junior High School, effective June 22 due to retirement.
A recommendation to accept the resignation of Dr. Joseph Maginnis, assistant principal at Mifflin County Junior High School, effective June 30, due to retirement.
A consideration to seek bids for timber removal at the Strodes Mills property.
A recommendation to accept the resignation of Erika Reese, kitchen helper at Mifflin County Junior High School, effective June 4, due to retirement.
A recommendation to hold summer school starting June 20 at Mifflin County High School. The cost would be $180 per class and be open to grades 9-12 from the Mifflin County and Juniata County school districts.
A recommendation to approve Kimberly Manganaro, M.D. as school district physician for the 2012-12 school year. Compensation will be at an hourly rate.
A recommendation to approve Dane Spriggle, D.O. to provide mandated vision exams for life skills students for the next school year at a cost of $12 per student.
A recommendation to add Lisa Andrews and Darcie Crock to the 2011-12 substitute teacher list.
A recommendation to accept the resignation of Kent Daubert, learning support teacher at Indian Valley Intermediate School, effective March 23, due to personal reasons.
A recommendation to accept the resignation of Laura Cornish, math teacher at Mifflin County High School, effective at the end of the current school year, due to relocation.
A recommendation to accept the resignation of Cindy Harvey, health and phys ed teacher at Mifflin County Junior High School, effective at the end of the current school year, due to retirement.
A recommendation to hire the following coaches for the 2012-13 school year: Brian Heckert, first assistant football; Allan Hepner, Rob Warner, Charles Douglas and Steven Himes, assistant football; Joseph Eckenroth, head junior high football; Christian Hassinger, and Richard Bender Jr., assistant junior high football.
A recommendation to approve the following volunteer coaches for the 2012-13 school year: Vince Inzerillo, Jeffrey Weikel II and William Snook, football.
A recommendation to accept the resignation of Anita Valerio, head girls soccer coach, effective April 18, due to possible relocation.
A recommendation to add Steven Myers, Tim Pearce, Dale Wilburne, Scott Gantz and Kristin Bedford to the revised event staff list.
A recommendation to approve the winning Envirothon county team from the high school to attend the state competition and stay overnight at the University of Pittsburgh at Johnstown May 22-23. All expenses, including transportation, will be paid for by the Mifflin County Conservation District.
A recommendation to allow the Mifflin County High School Marching Band to travel to Sandusky, Ohio and Cleveland, Ohio for its spring trip May 12-13. All expenses will be paid for by the Music Boosters.