LASD tax hike proposal gets green light from board | Local News

The Littlestown Area School Board, in a 6-3 split vote, approved the proposed school budget for 2022-23 at its regular board meeting last week.

Board members Bob Hahn, Brian Lawyer, Jennifer McClay, Dolores Nester, Carl Thompson and Yancy Unger voted to approve the proposed budget. Nikki Kenny, Shari Kruger and Jeanne Ewen voted against approving the budget.

A motion by Kenny to table the budget failed before the approval vote. Kenny asked to table the budget vote and send it back to the administration to remove the 1% tax increase. Kenny said she just received a final copy of the proposed budget ahead of the meeting. Ewen and Kruger voted with Kenny to table the budget vote.

The approved proposed budget includes a 1% tax increase that will generate $174,362 in additional revenue for the district. District property owners whose property is valued at $200,000 will pay an additional $2.16 per month or an additional $25.92 in school taxes for the upcoming school year. If the proposed budget is approved, the mileage rate for the district will increase to 13.0458 mills. A final vote on the budget will take place at the regular board meeting on June 20.

When asked about the upcoming budget for the next school year, Superintendent Chris Bigger laid out the entire budget planning process.

“Budget planning begins in the fall with the finance committee and evolves throughout the year. The school board is fully informed of the finances of the Littlestown Area School District,” Bigger said.

This included reductions of $360,000 in personnel and programs, in addition to mandatory contractual obligations, charter/cyber costs, health care costs, special education, PSERs, and general trends in major budget expenditures, all of which total 80% of the district’s budget, he said.

The board received the annual financial statements in December from the auditors, Bigger said.

“The full board received the proposed budget detail, the PDE 2028 form at the May business session meeting and at the request of a board member, the full board received the descriptions of departments on Monday,” Bigger said.

A total of 11 Littlestown residents, including board member Carl Thompson, stepped up to the microphone to speak to the board during the public comment portion of the meeting. Due to the number of speakers, Nester has limited speaking time to four minutes.

Thompson addressed the board and those present in support of a tax hike saying, “not as a board member.”

Thompson said he spoke as a taxpayer in favor of higher taxes.

“I’m speaking for a 1% to 3% tax increase. If the school district isn’t doing well, neither will our property values,” Thompson said.

Thompson said that if good schools aren’t maintained, it could cause the property values ​​of all homes to depreciate.

“Without increases or stability in property values, it will be difficult to maintain competitive salaries let alone attract award-winning, top-notch teachers and administrators,” Thompson said.

Janelle Ressler, a mother of three in the district, spoke to the council about her campaign to involve parental consent for certain books in the school library.

“Many of the 35 books I have submitted for review so far were in the ‘Top 10 Most Disputed Books’. These books are on the list because of their extremely vulgar content, i.e. sexually explicit depictions, child sexual abuse, graphic rape to name a few.These top 10 books do not promote educational fit, and in a time when the district is pinching pennies and increasing taxes, he shouldn’t waste taxpayers’ money buying up this ubiquitous filth and again paying a so-called ‘shadow board’ to review the books. Children should never have to bear the brunt of adult subjects,” a said Ressler.

Ressler also requested updates and legal enforcement of her right-to-know requests she filed with the school district.

“I sent in a right to know request on March 28. I received a request for a 30 day extension. It is mid-May and the timing of this extension in response to my initial right to know is overdue. When will I get some sort of response from the district? Ressler asked.

In a written statement regarding Ressler’s right to know of the requests, Bigger said Ressler has received correspondence about all RTK requests.

Kristi Sentz also spoke about books that contain sensitive topics.

“We’re not asking for books to be banned, we’re just asking for regulation of age-appropriate material. Tell me why parents get permissions before puberty talk or when a movie is shown with sensitive material , but we allow books with extreme sexual content to be freely available in our libraries without permission,” Sentz said.

The board, in an 8-1 vote, approved a 2.75% salary increase for support staff and a one-time payment of $100 per year of service for year-round employees and $70 per year of service for school year employees to a maximum of $1,500, effective July 1. The increase and one-time payment add $83,413 in expenses to the 2022-23 district budget. Council member Kenny votes against the increase.

Driver training eliminated

The board voted unanimously to eliminate “in-car” driver training, opting to maintain online driver training education to meet graduation requirements until policy changes. graduation be updated in Spring 2023.

Eliminating the program will save the district approximately $21,000. The online driver training program will continue in at least one other school.