School board approves new $34 million budget for 2005-06 school year

Health insurance costs are rising about 171/2 percent.
NEW CASTLE, Pa. --The New Castle Area School District has adopted a $34 million spending plan with no tax increase.
At a special meeting this week, the school board approved the 2005-06 budget, which reflects a 1.3 percent, or $440,000, increase over the 2004-05 spending plan.
School officials were able to maintain a 17.27 tax millage despite the spending increase.
District business manager Joseph Ambrosini said 1 mill of tax generates about $550,000.
But, in preparing the budget, he said, he used a tax collection rate of 82.5 percent.
He explained that is based on an 80 percent to 85 percent collection rate over the past five years.
He said salaries and benefits account for about 70 percent of the spending plan.
He added that health insurance costs in the new budget have gone up about 171/2 percent.
The school district was able to cut back some expense by eliminating five positions, a move that resulted when the junior and senior high schools were consolidated into one building.
Although the portion of the budget for teachers' salaries is down about 61/2 percent, the district's early retirement costs have more than doubled, he said.
Three dozen teachers took advantage of the early retirement incentive package offered earlier this year, which allows the school district to hire new instructors at lower salaries.

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