Chambersburg's preliminary school budget OK'd

April 13, 2006|by DON AINES

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. - Property taxes in the Chambersburg Area School District would increase 4.27 mills, or $55.51 more on a property with a market value of $100,000, in the proposed $89.2 million budget for 2006-07.

The board voted unanimously Wednesday night to approve the preliminary spending plan. A public hearing on the budget is scheduled for May 10 and final passage is scheduled for June 14.

The increase would raise the real estate tax in the district to 71.27 mills, or $71.27 for every $1,000 in assessed valued on a property. The total real estate tax on a property with a market value of $100,000 would be about $926.

The budget sets expenditures at $85.1 million with an additional budgetary reserve of 5 percent, or $4.1 million, according to the budget outline. The proposed budget is 9.68 percent higher than the $81.3 million budget for this year.


The budget includes almost $1 million in new programs and personnel, including $410,000 for seven new elementary teachers; $117,000 for two technology instructional specialists; $117,000 for two business technology teachers at the high school and middle school; $58,556 for a dean of students at the junior high school; and $70,000 for an additional psychologist.

Teacher salaries would increase 2.5 percent in the budget, although the existing contract with the district's more than 500 teachers expires June 30. "The outside possibility of that is 6 percent," said Board President Craig Musser.

Approximately 100 teachers jammed the meeting room wearing badges with "80" on them, indicating the number of days until the contract expires. Dave Snyder, the chief negotiator for the Chambersburg Area Education Association, said the badges were "to make the point that time is slipping away."

The teachers are working on what was a three-year contract that has been extended seven years, Snyder said. Association President Doug Shatzer said the teachers and district have had a good relationship in past negotiations "and we'd certainly like to see that continue."

Most of the teachers left together after about an hour.

The budget can be adjusted up or down between now and its final passage, depending on the outcome of negotiations with the teachers and any cuts or adjustments the board decides to make, said Business Manager Rick Vensel.

"I don't ever remember us increasing a budget in the past 18 years" following its preliminary approval, Superintendent Edwin Sponseller said. "We've generally had reductions."

Salaries in the budget would increase approximately $1.4 million to $39.7 million. The district's costs for health and dental insurance would go up an estimated $950,000 to almost $10 million, according to the budget.

The district's contribution to the Pennsylvania State Employees Retirement System, one of the most rapidly rising budget items in recent years, would go up $754,470 to more than $2.5 million, a 42.3 percent increase, according to the budget summary.

Local revenues, which include a projected $41.2 million in real estate taxes, $5.5 million in earned income taxes, $2 million in real estate transfer taxes and other taxes and fees, would generate 63 percent of the money for the budget. The state's share would be 34 percent and federal allocations would account for 3 percent.

The state subsidy as a percentage share of the budget has been declining for years, Vensel said. It had been about 44 percent in 1991-92 and was 34.5 percent this year. Since 1991-92, the local share of the budget has increased from 50 percent to 62 percent this year, according to budget figures.

Of the 4.27-mill increase, 1.85 mills is for debt service for the district's construction program, according to the budget outline.

Budget math

Highlights of an $89.2 million budget for 2006-07 given preliminary approval by the Chambersburg School Board:

  • The budget increases taxes about $55 per year on a home worth $100,000.

  • It includes $410,000 for seven new elementary school teachers.

  • It includes $117,000 for two technology instructional specialists.

  • Teacher salaries would increase 2.5 percent.

  • It includes $58,556 for a dean of students at the junior high school.
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