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Waynesboro board works to trim budget

April 22, 2009|By JENNIFER FITCH

WAYNESBORO, Pa. -- Two hours of budget discussions Tuesday night provided the Waynesboro Area School Board with few ways to make significant cuts from its 2009-10 budget.

The board looked at salaries and benefits, only to hear that the vast majority are predetermined by contracts. Board members asked the administration to look at the number of classroom aides, paid extra duties of administrators and how technology facilitators are used.

The board said last year it would reduce the number of classroom aides by not filling positions after resignations and retirements. However, just one aide has left the district since then, officials said.

Now the board wants to know the student-to-aide ratio for special- education students and general- education students. It also wants to know how that compares to other area school districts.

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Board member Pat Heefner questioned whether the "director of personnel services" and "director of elementary education" duties could be eliminated. Both of those titles are given to elementary school principals who take on the extra role and receive additional pay.

Technology facilitators work in each building to manage computer labs, assist teachers with computers and ensure systems are set up properly, Business Administrator Caroline Dean said.

Board member Edward Wilson asked if the technology facilitators could split their time between more than one building.

"You could overlap them fairly easy," he said.

Preliminary drafts of the budget estimate $49.6 million in revenue and $50.7 million in expenditures. The board previously agreed not to raise taxes beyond 4.295 mills, an increase that Dean said would cost the average homeowner an extra $72. That increase would yield $996,000 in revenue for the district.

The final budget must be submitted to the state by June 30.

In other business, the board learned the results of Tuesday's bond sale to finance the remainder of the Waynesboro Area Senior High School renovation and expansion. The board borrowed $3.5 million for the balance of the $46 million project.

Gregg McLanahan, of financial advising firm Public Financial Management Inc., addressed the board last week to seek authorization for the sale.

"It's a week since I've been here, and every day the market has gotten better," he said Tuesday.

In its nine-minute sale, the board got 41 bids from five bidders. It got a 2.287 percent borrowing rate from Bank of New York Mellon Capital Markets.

"It was a very straightforward transaction," McLanahan said.

The low rate slightly lessened the millage impact for property owners. Board actions added three years to existing debt that would've expired at the end of the 2011-12 academic year, and it tacked on an additional .34 mills of new property taxes.

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