NANTICOKE — The Greater Nanticoke Area School Board on Thursday passed a final draft budget with a 5.2% property tax increase, the maximum allowed by state law without voter approval or a state exemption.
The proposed budget, which must be adopted by the end of May, is not the final budget, which must be adopted by the end of June, and the figures could change.
Chief Commercial Officer Tom Melone said the proposed budget does not include any increase in public funding for education. Gov. Tom Wolf, a Democrat, has offered a big money boost, but it’s unclear how much, if any, will pass through the Republican-controlled Legislature.
Melone also said projections show the district receiving about $1.1 million more than it spends in 2022-23, which would bring the fund balance to about $3.1 million.
The proposed budget increased property taxes from 12.4473 to 13.0945 mills. A mill is a tax of $1 for every $1,000 of assessed value. The proposed budget sets expenditures at just under $35.7 million.
The board also approved a resolution to issue general obligation bonds. Melone said the total borrowed is $3 million with repayment staggered from 2023 to 2046. The average annual increase in debt service will be around $150,000. Superintendent Ron Grevera said the money will be used for clubhouse renovations, grass for the pitch and a new rubberized track. He also noted that the district had received two Local Sharing Grants from the state — money acquired through legalized gambling — totaling $900,000 for the project.
And the board approved a compensation plan for Bill 93 directors running from July 1 of this year to June 30, 2027. Bill 93 is the state law that sets out how directors’ terms of employment are established. Grevera said the deal includes a 4% annual raise and covers 13 employees.
“It’s time for me to move on”
In a move that drew emotional reactions, Board Vice-Chairman Ken James presented the Sports Committee report and then announced that it was his last night as Chairman of that Committee as that he was resigning from his position, while remaining on the board of directors. All six other board members present voted against his resignation, prompting him to make a few comments while at one point appearing to hold back tears.
Noting that he’s been on the board for 25 years and was chair of the athletic committee for most of that time, James said sports are often the most “volatile” aspect of the district. , with frequent criticism of the board’s choices. “Often parents are not objective.” He referred to the arguments of the board in executive session behind closed doors.
“Things have piled up over the years,” he said. “The first thing I always wanted was what was best for our athletes.
“It’s just my limit. It’s time someone else chaired the committee,” he said. “I appreciate the downvotes, but it’s time for me to move on.”
The other board members remained silent until board chairman Tony Prushinski said the board would accept his resignation. James left immediately after the meeting without comment.
The board also:
• Approval of an agreement with M&J Excavation, Inc. to mill the asphalt in the stadium’s upper parking lot at a cost not exceeding $12,000.
• Acceptance of a quote from Rice Food Equipment and Consulting, Inc. for a combination electric oven at a cost not to exceed $23,238. The purchase is made through the state’s COSTAR program, which allows districts and municipalities to purchase equipment at a price already set by the state, eliminating the need to solicit bids.
• Women’s Basketball Coaches Named – Ed Grant as Head Coach, Brian Reed as Assistant I, Lindsay Quinn as Assistant II, Bill Goodman as Assistant III, Len Paczkowski Assistant IVa at half pay and Kayla Aufiero as Assistant IVb at half pay.
• Appointed Sterling Kepp as half-pay IIIa football assistant coach, John Pietryzk Jr. as strength coach and Mark Matusek as boys football coach.
• Approved posting for two K-12 physical education teachers, one K-12 art teacher, one K-12 music teacher, and one grade special education teacher. kindergarten to 12th grade.
• Accepted the retirement of Brenda Sowa, physical education and health teacher.
• Appointed Richard Yale as Cleaner.
• Appointment of Malik Smith, Lynn Headman and Heidi Grabko as drivers for contractor Keystone Valley Transportation.
Contact Mark Guydish at 570-991-6112 or on Twitter @TLMarkGuydish