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Waynesboro school board votes to cut assistant principal position

May 16, 2010|By JENNIFER FITCH

WAYNESBORO, PA. --In working out the details of its 2010-11 budget, the Waynesboro Area School Board decided last week that one cut will be an assistant high school principal position.

The board on Wednesday mulled eliminating the position, cutting it back to 200 days, or retaining it as is. Assistant Principal Matt Strine has submitted his resignation, creating a vacancy the board could have filled.

A 4-3 vote cut the position. Voting in favor were Ed Wilson, Firmadge Crutchfield, Leland Lemley and Billie Finn. Voting against the motion were K. Marilyn Smith, Bonnie Bachtell and Pat Heefner.

Although the budget hasn't been finalized, the board has been taking votes on certain items to give Business Administrator Caroline Dean direction when drafting the spending plan.

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It told her to proceed with eliminating a librarian position and subscriptions to an online system for accepting teacher applications.

The board members, and occasionally administrators, butted heads when discussing budget items. For instance, Heefner said she couldn't justify spending $66,000 in a line item for SMART Boards, projectors, cameras and laptops.

"I'd rather have a smart teacher in front of a classroom instead of a SMART Board," she said. "I cannot vote for $66,000 of technology when we're talking about (cutting) driver's education, an assistant principal and a guidance counselor. I can't justify spending this kind of money this year."

Superintendent James Robertson said technology can be a means to provide a good education and improve test scores.

"A good teacher can be effective without a SMART Board," Heefner said.

Robertson responded with an analogy that a good doctor is better with an X-ray machine.

The superintendent and assistant superintendent also implored the board to not do away with department heads and grade-level team leaders. Robertson called them the "bedrock of any curricular, structural innovation."

Lemley said the board started budget discussions in a bad situation because it used savings to pay for recurring expenses in 2009-10. He said the board also has revenue problems tied to a weakened economy.

"We're in all probability going to receive less revenue, locally, this year (compared to) last year," Lemley said, saying gross receipts have been down.

He said he expects no new revenue from the state or any other sources.

The board started negotiating its approximately $50 million budget with an anticipated deficit of $1.7 million. As the deficit has been whittled down, some board members have started talking about the possibility of raising property taxes.

"We could raise the millage (tax rate) and help this situation," Bachtell said.

Heefner said one combination of cuts brought the deficit down to $167,000.

"That is less than (the revenue from) a one-mill increase," she said.

A mill represents $1 of every $1,000 of assessed property value.

Seventy-seven percent of taxpayers pay $17 or less per mill, Heefner said. Fifty percent pay $11 or less, she said.

Heefner said she'd be willing to raise taxes "at least a mill and a half or two" mills to preserve some of the things on the chopping block.

"Things go up (in cost). We have to give our children a decent education," Bachtell said.

Lemley said "we'll see where we get to" with reductions and eliminations before talking about tax increases.

The board next meets at 7 p.m. Tuesday.

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