Ephrata still has zero tax increase budget
By: GARY P. KLINGER Review Correspondent, Staff Writer
A school budget without a tax increase moved a step closer to reality Monday night, as the Ephrata Area School District Board of Directors voted to approve its 2011-2012 Proposed Final Budget.
The $54,642,257 budget falls short on revenues with a projected total of $53,780,816. The difference will be made up through a combination of district-wide cost saving measures as well as through funds to be transferred from reserves. Passage of the measure came without fanfare or discussion. It passed unanimously as a line item on the board’s consent agenda.
The budget came at the directive of the school board early on to find a way to pass a budget that did not include tax increases. This was in large part to the on-going strain local taxpayers continue to experience due to the economic downturn. For the past several years, officials have been working to pare down costs, leading to the necessary savings to make this year’s budget a reality.
But in its April meeting, board members were warned that while a zero tax increase budget had been possible this year, chances of repeating the same formula again in the future looked grim. Projected funding challenges at the state and federal levels are projected to begin compounding the problems faced by all local school districts in coming years. Ephrata has been taking measures to help temper the effect but expects its ability to tap into reserves to disappear within the next few years.
A vote to appoint a new district business manager was pulled from the consent agenda. With no further board discussion, all members except for Neal Reichard voted to appoint Kristee Reichard to replace Jean Hornberger, who is retiring. Reichard abstained from the vote. No start date for Reichard has been determined at this time, pending her release from her current position. Her salary was approved at $95,000 per year.
In other district news, an agreement with Lancaster-Lebanon IU13 to lease approximately 800-square-feet at Washington Education Center for the IU 13′s Early Intervention Program through June 30, 2012.
The school board also approved a $56,904 contract with A & K Renovation for the renovation of the barn by the Ephrata Middle School. A $559,700 contract was awarded to TRS Roofing, Inc of Williamsburg for partial roof replacement at both the high school and middle school buildings.
Two bids for work on the stage at the high school were pulled from the consent agenda with further action by the board anticipated at a later school board meeting. It was anticipated that a $475,000 contract to replace the stage curtain and rigging and a $36,215.00 contract for electrical work on the stage would be awarded. These decisions have been shelved at least for now. A meeting will be held next Monday, May 23 at 7 p.m. to further discuss the status of this proposed project.
During his comments to the school board, Superintendent Dr. Gerald Rosati recognized an extensive list of school district staff who have been approved for retirement. In all, the list comprises a combined 332 years of experience. Those recognized include: Nancy Barshinger, instructional aide, 24 years; Frances Cohen, secretary, 26 years; Susan Eisenberger, secretary, 32 years; Stephanie Frymyer, elementary teacher, 35 years; Colleen Hauser, language arts teacher, 35 years; Judy Heckel, elementary teacher, 35 years; Jean Hornberger, business manager, three years; David Horst, tech ed teacher, 32 years; Dennis Kanuck, physical education teacher, 22 years; Anita Long, secretary, 22 years; Henry Schannauer, district maintenance, 19 years; Ruth Spade, secretary, 25 years; and Paul Thorp, custodian, 22 years.