New Castle News

Local News

June 20, 2014

Union OKs budget with no tax hike

NEW CASTLE — The Union Area School Board has adopted a $11,250,000 budget with no tax increase for the next school year.

The 2014-15 spending plan is an increase of $600,000 from the current year’s budget.

The board voted 8-0 Wednesday. Debra Allebach was absent.

Projected revenues of $10.7 million leave a shortfall in the budget of $550,000. That will be covered by the district’s fund balance, which will be $2.85 million at the start of the 2014-15 school year, according to Samantha Laverty, business manager.

Increased expenses, she explained, are a result of implementing more technology including mobile computer labs, hiring Rob Nogay as assistant principal, purchasing two buses, buying textbooks, additional security measures, a paving project, increased costs in the Pennsylvania School Employees Retirement System — a 4 percent jump from this year — the hiring of six assistant coaches and inflation.

Millage remains at 14.42.

With cuts the district has made in the past and concessions in the new teachers contract, “this helped us implement new items in the district for the students and avoid a tax increase,” Laverty pointed out.

John Bertolino, board president, said the board and administrative team did a nice job with the budget.

“We did a lot in five years to build up the fund balance to be on more stable ground,” Bertolino explained. “Teachers and administrators have learned to work with less, which amounted to savings growing in our fund balance during the last five years.”

He added he is pleased there is no tax increase.

Bertolino also addressed the departure of superintendent Dr. Alfonso “Butch” Angelucci, who has accepted the same position in the Slippery Rock Area School District.

“We wish Dr. Angelucci the best at Slippery Rock and he did a nice job with the district for the past five years,” Bertolino said. “It’s hard for a district of our size to complete with larger districts pertaining to compensation and salary levels.”

Bertolino said he believes school boards statewide owe it to taxpayers to keep compensation plans at a more conservative level.

“The Union school board realizes this and we had a performance-based bonus plan with Dr. Angelucci that would allow earning more based on achievement of established goals. Union is one of the few districts in the state with such a plan. I give the board a lot of credit for developing this.”

He added taxpayers have enough outside financial burdens without supporting these types of compensation packages.

Also at Wednesday’s meeting, the board hired Brian Haddox and Dennis Hritz as band camp assistants.

(Email: l_hudson@ncnewsonline.com)

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