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CASD awaits word on $2M stimulus boost

May 27, 2009|By JENNIFER FITCH

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. -- A $2 million question mark remains in the 2009-10 budget for the Chambersburg Area School District.

Administrators and the school board already pared down a multimillion-dollar deficit, but they don't know whether the state legislature will keep the district's basic education funding at the same level as last year. The Pennsylvania Senate already passed a bill in which the anticipated $2 million stimulus boost would be eliminated.

The state budget and school districts' budgets all are supposed to be passed by June 30.

"We might go into the summer without clear direction," Chambersburg Business Manager Steve Dart said.

The tentative budget, which passed May 13 with $105 million in expenditures, includes a 4.9 percent property tax increase. That increase would translate into $41.27 in additional taxes for a property appraised at $100,000, Dart said previously.

Also, people registered for farmstead and homestead exemption savings on their real estate tax bills can anticipate diminished savings. Dart estimates each household will see savings reduced by about $23.

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The amount of money in the pot remains the same, Dart said, but several hundred more properties now are eligible.

On Wednesday, several parents and a teacher questioned what school officials plan to do with the autism programs. A cost-savings proposal would transfer Lincoln Intermediate Unit services to in-house classrooms.

"All we ask for as parents of these kids are answers," said William Confer, whose son is in a verbal behavior program. "Change is one of the worst things for these children when it comes to their learning process."

"We just want to know what's going on," echoed Jake Wimmer, whose son is enrolled at Scotland (Pa.) Elementary School.

Superintendent Joseph Padasak addressed separate concerns about school bus schedules, saying the district never releases the information before Aug. 15, and this year won't be an exception. New routes and school times will result in pickup/drop-off times changing by about 20 minutes from 2008-09, he said.

Secondary-school students will be in school from 8 a.m. to 2:45 p.m. Elementary-school students will be in school from 9 a.m. to 3:45 p.m. to give them more instructional hours in the year.

New computer software will adapt the 100 routes that affect 9,000 public- and private-school students. Padasak said the software and staff are trying to minimize transfers, especially for special education students.

Some special education students travel well beyond school district boundaries on buses.

"We bus special education students literally around the state of Pennsylvania, not hundreds, but thousands," Padasak said.

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