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Proposed school budget in Waynesboro includes tax increase

April 12, 2006|by JENNIFER FITCH

WAYNESBORO, Pa. - The Waynesboro Area School Board on Tuesday took a first look at a 2006-07 preliminary budget with $43.3 million in expenditures that address rising costs in fuel, energy, special education services, retirement payments and cyber charter schools.

District officials repeatedly emphasized that Tuesday's documents were a "first pass" and Business Manager Caroline Dean said the preliminary proposal of a 6.4-mill tax increase is tentative.

Those 6.4 mills of taxes would cost the average homeowner in the Borough of Waynesboro about $91, assuming the average assessed value of a house in the borough is $14,173, Dean said.

The tax increase would balance the budget, which has estimated revenues of $42 million. Each mill of taxes generates approximately $206,000 for the district.

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The current mill rate is 70.88.

Officials budgeted $212,000 into the 2006-07 budget for cyber charter schools, where students receive their education online. The district does not know now how many students will be enrolled in cyber school next year because it is not made aware of students' participation until they enroll.

The preliminary budget also includes expenditure increases for both the Franklin Learning Center and in-house special education services. The placement of even two special education students in the district can cost nearly $50,000, District Superintendent Barry Dallara said.

He said that while he supports federal and state mandates to ensure that special education students receive educational opportunities, those mandates often don't have increased funding behind them.

The preliminary budget reflects a 15 percent increase in health insurance costs, bringing the costs to about $4.4 million.

"Health insurance continues to be a national problem," Dallara said.

The school board has been encouraged to issue one of its $10 million bonds as soon as possible, rather than wait until December, he said.

"Basically, we can borrow money at a lower rate now," Dallara said.

The board plans to issue several bonds to fund a $40 million renovation project at the high school.

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