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SHARON Schools weigh tax increase



Published: Tue, May 22, 2001 @ 12:00 a.m.



An increase would go toward the renovation of the high school/middle school.

By HAROLD GWIN

VINDICATOR SHARON BUREAU

SHARON, Pa. -- Sharon school officials are considering a property tax increase to balance the district's 2001-2002 budget.

The school board introduced a tentative $20,523,980 budget Monday, reflecting a $700,000 increase in spending.

About half of that, $330,000, can be found in increased debt service that will total $1,870,000 next year to pay for building renovation programs. Other major increases can be found in operation and maintenance, up $120,000, and special instructional program costs, up $110,000.

The district already plans to take $246,000 from its budgetary reserves to help cover the spending increase, and Superintendent Richard Rossi said a 3-mill property tax is being considered.

Use for revenue: That would generate about $102,000 in new revenue, all of which would be channeled into debt service for renovations at the high school/middle school, he said.

Sharon has already raised taxes 14 mills over the past several years to help pay back $12 million borrowed for two elementary school renovation-expansion projects and part of the $13 million cost of the high school/middle school work.

School officials say one mill of tax costs the average residential taxpayer $5 a year.

The board raised taxes 3 mills last year, bringing the total to 120. If this budget is approved, that would go to 123 mills.

Still under review: Rossi said the budget is still being reviewed in hopes of reducing the need for a tax increase.

In other business, the board rejected the superintendent's proposal to reduce the grade point value of high school independent study programs and decided to postpone a vote on his recommendation to stop offering credit and grades for the district's gifted program.

Independent study carried a grade point value of 5 this year, the same value carried by advanced placement courses, and earned students one-quarter of a credit.

Rossi proposed reducing the grade point value to 4 while keeping the one-quarter credit, the change showing up in a proposed new academic handbook presented Monday. But the board voted 5-4 against adopting the handbook.

How members voted: Directors Dom Russo, Pamela Corini, Rick Mancino, Amity Messett and Kathy Hall voted against it while Nick Morocco, Donald Golub, Linda Valentino and Lora Adams-King voted for it.

Russo said the credit value was too low, noting that telephone monitors in the high school office get graded and earn one-quarter credit for their services. The academic work required by independent study should be worth more, he said.

The district's gifted program, known as Encore, carried a grade point value of 5 and earned gifted juniors and seniors in the program one-half credit in the past, but Rossi proposed eliminating all grading and credit for the program.

That will kill the program, Russo said, arguing that students won't take gifted studies if the can't earn credit for it. Several parents in the audience backed his concern.

The board opted to review the issue further before making any decision.

gwin@vindy.com




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