CV seeks help in trimming budget
BY DONNA WALKER, Correspondent
Conestoga Valley residents are being asked to help the school board find ways to limit next year's tax increase.
The public is invited to attend a forum on Monday to hear an overview of the budget and help decide which costs to cut.
The session will be held at 6:30 p.m. at Leola Elementary School, 11 School Drive, prior to the board's regular meeting. The forum and the board meeting will be held in the auditorium.
The forum will be limited budget discussions.
"We will have more detail on the possible reductions list and be going over that," board President Daryl Stoltzfus said Monday. "We actually canceled other things we had planned to spend more time on the budget."
Roof maintenance, books, computers, supplies and hiring of new staff are all on the list of possible cuts.
At the forum, director of administrative services Kim Seldomridge will provide an overview of the budget. Superintendent Gerald Huesken will present the list of potential reductions and then ask the audience to form four discussion groups.
In their small groups, participants will suggest items to reduce or cut and also have the opportunity to ask the board to continue to fund specific school programs or resources.
At its meeting following the forum, the board will discuss the community response and make decisions on the tax rate and school programs.
At a previous meeting, board members had directed the administration to identify programs that could be scaled back so that the tax increase could be limited to 1.7 percent, which is the Act 1 index, or cap, set by the state for CV.
The district has asked for exceptions to the index so that it could raise the rate by as much as 2.5 percent.
In its effort to trim costs, the board asked to see a list of programs that could be eliminated to keep the tax increase to 2 percent, and another list to that would limit the increase to 1.7 percent.
With a 2.5 percent tax increase, the owner of a $166,000 property (the average value in the school district) would pay $2,431 in school taxes, or $60 more than the current school year. The millage rate would increase from 14.2865 mills to 14.6445 mills.
In other business at Monday's meeting, district resident Elise Graybill asked the board to consider including a half-day kindergarten option, specifically at Smoketown Elementary. The school currently offers the half-day option but may go to full-day-only in 2013-14.
Leola Elementary offers full-day kindergarten only. Brownstown and Fritz offer both but may also be full-day only next year. A final decision hasn't been made.
The board also set the date for the 2013 high school commencement. With winter weather no longer a factor in snow makeup days at year's end, the board set commencement for 7 p.m. on Wednesday, June 5, at Calvary Church.
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