SHARPSVILLE – Sharpsville Area School District residents will pay about 5 percent more in property taxes under the 2018-19 budget approved Monday.

The board approved its budget in an 8-1 vote, with board member Janice Raykie dissenting. Raykie said she understood the board’s difficulties in balancing the budget, especially considering increased payments to the state pension fund and decreased funding from the state, but had thought that the tax increase could have been less.

“Once you raise taxes they are never taken away, and we can’t continue to raise taxes at this rate,” she said. “If you do that, it will become more and more difficult to get families to move into our district.”

According to the new budget, tax millage will increase by 3.75 mills, from 74.75 to 78.5. With the average assessed property value of a home in Sharpsville at $17,250, the school tax would be increased by about $64, Senior Business Manager Jaime Roberts said.

“We want to be able to provide all the services that we have in the past, but it’s getting more difficult to do so,” Roberts said.

Between the school board’s meetings on May 21 and this week, Roberts said members continued to look for places to cut the budget, and they were able to reduce the school district’s expenditures from the final proposed budget’s $18,412,885 to $18,077,170 in the approved budget.

Roberts said the cuts made include:

• An aide position that will not be filled.

• A second aide who  was furloughed.

• Two bus routes that will be eliminated.

• An elementary teacher position — left by Carol Houck, who became principal at Sharpsville Area High School following the appointment of John Vannoy to superintendent — will not be filled.

“When (Houck) became the high school principal, her position was filled by a long-term substitute for the 2017-2018 school year,” Roberts said. “But we moved some staff and teachers around, and our kindergarten and first-grade numbers are lower enrollment-wise, so we decided we could go without filling her position.”

The district also eliminated its summer reading camp, though Roberts said a reading program offered by United Way was recently expanded and may be able to take some of the students. The school district also reduced the staff-development budget, which Roberts said sends teachers to training conferences.

Vannoy said it was a “very long” process since about February when it came to deciding what programs could be cut without affecting the students’ education.

“It’s always difficult when you’re looking to trim things out of the budget, because you’re trying to do what’s going to have the least impact on the educational component,” Vannoy said.

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