The Blue Mountain School Board voted June 23 to approve a 2022-23 budget with no tax increase.
The $2.6 million budget has a deficit of $424,486 that will be funded by the district’s unassigned fund balance. The tax rate stands at 42.825 mills, about $2,141 for a home assessed at $100,000.
The board announced good news for residents with children attending the Blue Mountain Elementary West and Cressona Elementary Schools. According to Superintendent Dr. David H. Helsel, the new elementary school in Friedensburg will be ready for the beginning of the 2022-23 school year. Students from the former Elementary West and Cressona will be housed in the new building which holds grades K-5.
Cressona Mayor Sandra Renninger attended the meeting to discuss the future of the old school in Cressona. Renninger said she hopes the building is repurposed given its history. The building dates back to 1929 when it was built as Cressona High School.
In other business, the board approved a five-year contract with Fraser Advanced Information Systems at a monthly rate of $5,868. Also approved was a lease agreement with Fisher Leasing, Inc. for the lease of a vehicle for driver’s education at a rate of $26 per day for June through August.
The Nutrition Group was approved for the operation, administration and management of the district’s food service activities for the next school year.
Seltzer Insurance Agency of Orwigsburg was approved as insurance advisor for the 2022-23 school year.
The board approved the hiring of Erin DiLorenzo as a substitute custodian, Samuel Bunnick, Autumn Blankenhorn, Kiersten Faust, Julienna Faust and Ryan Grube as temporary custodial helpers for the summer.
Rhoda Gerace and Corriann Meyers were approved as extended school year teachers through July 28.
Eric Prock, Fanelli, Evans and Patel, PC, was approved as school board solicitor at a rate of $150 per hour for non-litigation work and $175 per hour for litigation-related work through June 2023.
The board also approved the appointment of Dr. Donald C. Moyer, Geisinger Clinic, to perform kindergarten physical examinations at the BMEE and BMEW, grade 6 examinations at the middle school and grade 11 examinations at the high school.
Rose Carper was hired to replace Ruth Weidman as head girls’ basketball coach.
Reading list challenged
Board member Rosanne Zelusky was the sole dissenter regarding the adoption of recommended reading material for the high school honors class. Zelusky questioned the addition of “The Handmaids Tale” by Margaret Atwood, a novel that includes explicit sexual themes.
The board approved the 2022-23 Student-Parent Handbook for the middle school. Parents are encouraged to read and note changes for the upcoming year.
During public comment, Natalie Glunz of Long Run Road, Wayne Township pressed the board for answers regarding the new elementary school property boundaries. Glunz has hired an independent surveyor to study possible encroachment issues after not getting responses from Lobar Inc., the general contractor for the elementary school.
Attorney Sud Patel, representing the district, agreed to provide Glunz with information regarding setbacks, sewer lines and silt slopes adjacent to her property.
The next committee of the whole meeting will be held Aug. 15 with the regular meeting held Aug. 25. The board has no scheduled meetings in July.
Source: Berkshire mont