NASD superintendent vows to reduce proposed 3.5 percent property tax hike
While no specifics were revealed, Northampton Area School District Superintendent Joseph Kovalchik again vowed that the proposed property tax increase of 3.5 percent will be reduced prior to the adoption of the final budget.
"That number will come down. We're going to get it at or below the index," Kovalchik said. "We're not sure how we're going to do that," he added.
The preliminary NASD budget for fiscal year 2014-'15, calls for a 3.5 percent tax increase of 1.67 mills from 47.71 mills to 49.38 mills.
Based on the 3.5 percent tax hike, a property owner's school tax bill would increase from $2,743.50 to $2,839.53 annually, or a yearly increase of $96.03, a monthly increase of $8 and a weekly increase of $1.85, based on the NASD average residential property assessment of $57,503.70.
The preliminary general fund budget of $91,349,344, athletic fund of $173,569 and food service fund of $2,381,657 was approved unanimously 9 - 0 by the NASD school board at the Jan. 27 board meeting.
The school board also voted 8-1 to authorize the administration to request a referendum exception from the Pennsylvania Department of Education (PDE) that would allow the district to exceed its 2.5 percent tax hike cap. School Director Jean Rundle voted against the authorization.
Allowable PDE exceptions include construction costs and retirement contributions. NASD hopes to obtain PDE approval for its exceptions by April 14. The school board next meets at 6:30 p.m. April 14.
NASD is in the midst of an $80.7-million middle school and secondary campus renovation project.
Noting that some Lehigh Valley school districts have cut teaching staff positions, Kovalchik said at the March 24 board meeting, "No staff furloughs. I don't see us in that situation. We haven't been forced to terminate any staff members."
NASD had 700 employees during the 2011-12 school year. There are 646 employees during the 2012-13 school year.
Pennsylvania school districts must approve budgets by July 1.
In other business at the March 24 meeting, school directors, by voice vote and roll call votes of 8-0, with one director absent, approved, at the recommendation of the administration:
2014-15 Northampton Community College (NCC) budget of $57,010,833 with the NASD portion of $727,675;
Nick Politi as NASD representative to the NCC Board of Trustees, effective July 1 through June 30, 2020;
Agreement with Lehigh University to rent Stabler Arena for 2014 graduation ceremonies for $8,195.45 plus any actual expenses;
Resignation of Gregory Csencsitz as Assistant Girls Basketball Coach, effective at the close of the 2013-14 basketball season;
Half-year sabbatical for Deana Ferry, for the purpose of professional development, for the second semester of the 2014-15 school year;
Resignation of Michele Orsulak, Itinerant ESL Teacher at Northampton Area High School and Northampton Area Middle School, effective the last teacher day of the 2013-14 school year;
Posting for the positions of teachers for Extended School Year and Chapter 15-Section 504 Services for the summer 2014, with the number of teachers actually needed to be determined.;
Additions and deletions to the Substitute Listing for the 2013-14 school year;
Additions to the District Volunteer Master Listing for the 2013-14 school year: Jeffrey Delaney, Athletic; Laura Rycek, Athletic, and Mary Stone, Borough Elementary Schools;
Tara Mrazik, Maryanne Miller, Allison Fiorini, Jaclyn Grejda, Ryan Brobst and Robert Steckel to attend the DECA ICDC along with 42 DECA students May 2-7 in Atlanta, Ga. The maximum cost to NASD will be $1,600, which is included in the 2013-14 board-approved curriculum budget.