Brockway School District Raises Taxes, Hires Teachers

BROCKWAY, Pa. (EYT) – The Brockway Area School Board felt that a tax increase was unavoidable as it looks to its 2019-2020 budget.

“The board had no choice but to raise taxes as there has not been sufficient funding from the state, and we have been forced to use money from our reserve fund, not only this year, but for the past four years,” School Board President Katie Bish said in a statement after the board’s meeting Tuesday. “Prior to June 2016, the board had not raised taxes for 20 years. The board has no other choice but to increase taxes to come up with a balanced budget.”

While the per capita taxes remained the same as 2018-2019, the occupational assessment tax rate will go up to $100. In addition, the real estate taxes will increase slightly, meaning that a house assessed at $50,000 will be assessed at an additional $57. Dr. James Brown voted no to all tax increases.

Bish said the taxes will amount to an additional $300,000 for the district, which will not cover all shortfalls in the proposed $15 million budget for 2019-2020.

“The goal of maintaining the high standards of the Brockway School District has always been paramount to the board,” Bish added. “The increase is necessary to meet this need.”

The end of the school year meeting showed many areas where needs of the district required a large payout. For example, the district needs to have an auditor, so they are bringing in Maher Duessel out of Pittsburgh for a three-year period. The base price is $19,900, with a $600 increase each year of the contract. Also, Frontline Technologies provides the substitute management software, which costs $3,210. The district solicitor, the Law Firm of Ferraro, Kruk, and Ferraro, receives a $2,500 retainer. The 30-year old ovens at the high school need to be replaced, requiring a payment of $42,720. The equipment for the upcoming school year will cost the district $85,638. Also costing the district money are the tax exoneration for people 68 years old or older and the Homestead and Farmstead Acts. With all this, the proposed budget is still down .5% from the previous year.

While the bills were being paid, the district also had to hire replacement teachers for the group of retirees at the elementary school. Joining the staff at Brockway Area Elementary School are Anthony Benson, Hunter Lydick, Alec Shaffer-Doan, Deborah Snyder, and Linsey Zimmerman. The district also brought on Holly Cramer as a full-time custodian. The board also accepted the resignation of Michael Wonderling.

May’s second meeting was the final meeting for senior Cecilia Manno, who was the district’s student representative. Manno was responsible for updating the board on events happening in the schools.

Cecilia Manno

“The meetings will not be the same without you,” Superintendent Jeff Vizza said to Manno. “You will be sadly missed.”

Manno received a coffee mug from the district because Vizza feels that every college student should have a good coffee mug.

The proposed budget will be adopted at the district’s next meeting, June 25 at 7 p.m.

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