Pleasant Valley School District Approves 1.4% Increase in Taxes
BY JARRAD HEDES JMHEDES@TNONLINE.COM
Pleasant Valley’s board of education unanimously approved a proposed final budget Thursday night calling for a 1.4 percent tax increase in 2019-2020.
The final spending plan will be voted on June 13.
According to a presentation by business manager Susan Famularo, the budget includes about $100 million in revenue and $103.1 million in expenditures, leaving a $3.1 million deficit to be covered by the district’s fund balance.
The 1.4 percent, or 2-mill, property tax increase adds $630,000 to Pleasant Valley’s revenue and will result in a $42 increase to the average district property owner.
That impact, however, will be partially offset for those residents who receive a refund through the state’s homestead or farmstead exclusion.
“The district as a whole is anticipating $4 million in state gambling revenue, which would result in $500 to each qualifying homestead or farmstead owner,” Famularo said. “This is a $15 increase from previous years and that reduction would be reflected on the property tax bill.”
Superintendent David Piperato said the budget takes into account the district’s goals, one of which is to focus on the academic needs of students, but also their emotional and social needs.
Piperato also addressed the district’s staffing choices, particularly its administrators, since he took over the job in 2017. Since that point, he said, the district has reassigned a number of administrators and reallocated their responsibilities, but has only added one new position, the director of curriculum.
“The total amount of money spent on administrators has gone from $1.36 million when I came here to $1.35 million and that is with adding an administrator,” he said.
Only seven of Pleasant Valley’s 28 administrators on the Act 93 contract are making six figures, he added.
The district is still looking to hire a new Pleasant Valley Middle School principal and an athletic director.
As for new budget initiatives in 2019-20, the district is adding a full-day kindergarten program, which will cost just over $888,000; implementing Project Lead The Way with pathways in engineering, computer science and biomedical at a cost of $148,196; adding two math coaches (K-6 and K-12) at $90,506 each with salary and benefits; adding four building substitutes for a total of $330,291 and additional department chairpersons for $26,293.
Factors that will influence future budgets, Piperato said, include building projects, the uncertain status of state and federal funding, payments for charter schools and out-of-district placements, declining enrollment, maintaining effective programming and legal mandates.
Legal costs as a whole were a hot topic of discussion Thursday. Famularo said this year the district has spent $243,000 on that line item, which puts it $106,000 in the red.
“This year appears to be extraordinarily high,” she said. “We do budget an amount in contingency to cover unexpected items.”
Director Donna Yozwiak said she would like to see that area brought under control.
“We need to cautiously look at everything we are doing legally,” she said. “I really want to save some money with our legal fees.”
In terms of state funding, while the district said it doesn’t know yet what to expect this year, state Rep. Jack Rader, who attended Thursday’s meeting, said there is no reason not to expect an increase in education funding.
“Education is very important to us,” he said. “I can’t imagine we’ll go past June 30 with this budget. We’ve done all our homework. Now it’s just negotiations between the governor’s office and ourselves.”