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Tuscarora settles on tax increase of nearly 10 mills

June 29, 2005|by RICHARD F. BELISLE

waynesboro@herald-mail.com

MERCERSBURG, Pa. - The owner of an average-priced home in the Tuscarora School District will pay about $110 more in school taxes next year following adoption of a $26.3 million budget late Monday, a school official said.

The 2005-06 budget, which, among other things, makes up a $1.3 million deficit through layoffs, charging a student activity fee and leaving nine open teaching positions vacant, raises taxes by 9.98 mills next year, Tuscarora Superintendent of Schools Thomas Stapleford said Tuesday.

One mill, which represents $1 for every $1,000 of assessed property value, generates about $133,000 for the school district.

About 200 people, many sports and music activity boosters, attended Monday's board meeting, urging that their activities not be cut.

Preliminary discussions among board members, neither of which were approved, included not replacing a music teacher during her yearlong leave of absence and cutting the high school athletic director's position to part time.

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Members of the audience also opposed a preliminary plan to charge students involved in any sport that required transportation to pay a $25 activity fee for the season.

Stapleford said he will recommend a general $10 student activity fee, much like that charged to students in colleges and universities, that would cover everything "across the board."

The superintendent also said the board, following an executive session Monday, voted to lay off three full-time and four part-time teacher aides as another cost-saving move.

Also, the positions of nine of 12 teachers who retired at the end of the 2004-05 school year will not be filled next year, he said.

Stapleford said he hated to make personnel decisions based on financial considerations, but there was no choice this year.

A potential increase in teacher salaries, once ongoing contract negotiations are settled, and a 31 percent increase in the cost of employee health insurance premiums add to the deficit, school officials have said.

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