SHARON – Sharon City School Board approved a preliminary 2020-21 budget that calls for spending $39.6 million, but does not set property tax rates.
Superintendent Michael Calla called the budget “a work in progress.’ The board will hold budget hearings at 6 p.m. May 28, June 4 and June 25. Board members will devote these sessions on closing an estimated $2 million gap between expenditures and expected revenues.
School officials received approval from the state Department of Education to increase property taxes by more than the state-mandated maximum. At previous meetings, school board members had previously discussed raising taxes by as much as 6 mills, or about 7.5%.
Last year, the board raised taxes to the annual index maximum, increasing the millage to 80.01 from 77.23 mills. A 6-mill tax increase would generate $534,000 in tax revenue.
At 86.01 mills, the owner of a property with an assessed value of $10,000 would have a tax bill of about $860. The district is allowed to increase taxes beyond the state inflation index amount because special education costs increased by almost $1 million from 2018-19 to the proposed 2020-21 budget.
Sharon’s cost for special education was $6,515,712 in 2018-19. For 2019-20, the amount rose to $6,972,500, and the line item increases to $7,420,162 in next year’s preliminary budget.
Calla said the 2020-21 budget will be affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, even though students have not been in the classrooms since March 12, with the expectation that state and federal funding will decline and some expenses will increase.
“The impact on this crisis on our taxpayers, the impact on state funding, which is projected to include losses in the billions of dollars, the impact of losses in federal funding which also is showing steep decline, coupled with potential increases in healthcare costs as the medical community deals with the virus and its impacts and pension costs, will all directly impact the amount of revenue that supports the education of our students for the 2020-2021 school year and years to come,” he said.
Calla presented a report to school board members during the meeting:
• Kindergarten registration began Wednesday and will continue today and Friday at all three elementary school buildings. Parents should pick up registration packets, fill them out at home, and should not bring children when dropping off the packets.
• Seniors can drop off final packets this week, and students in grades seven through 11 will clean out their lockers today. Elementary schools will have locker clean out and packet delivery next week.
• Sharon will not hold the Success by Six pre-kindergarten program this year.
School board members unanimously approved:
• An addendum agreement with Student Transportation of America of Pennsylvania Inc. to modify its contract regarding compensation of lost days due to COVID-19.
• Accepting a Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency grant for $35,000 for the Middle High School for emergency alert system technology.
• A change order with Guys Mechanical Systems Inc., Rochester, Pa., for remaining work on the Middle High School’s new engineered air units for $6,075 as part of a summer 2018 construction project.
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