The Derry Area school board at its regular meeting Thursday approved a resolution to operate within the Act 1 index during the 2022-23 budget cycle.
The cost-of-living index caps any property tax increase at 4.7%, or 4.31 mills, Derry Area Business Administrator Scott Chappell said.
That means the school district, if necessary, is only able to increase taxes to generate a maximum of just over $586,00 in additional local tax revenue for the upcoming budget.
The value of 1 mill is about $136,000, Chappell said.
The Act 1 index is a state formula regulating real estate tax increases.
The board will look to pass a tentative budget in May. The school district must adopt a final budget by June 30.
Last year, the school board approved a 2021-22 final budget with no tax increase. The spending plan kept the district’s tax rate at 91.8 mills.
Also Thursday, the school board approved a right of way agreement and easement between the Greater Latrobe, Derry Area and Ligonier Valley school districts and the Derry Township Supervisors, with the agreement granting the township temporary and permanent easements of the Eastern Westmoreland Career and Technology Center (EWCTC) property to construct, install, operate and maintain stormwater lines.
Last year, the supervisors approved awarding two alternate bids for additional work related to the construction of a bioretention pond and stormwater inlets near EWCTC to collect and filter runoff from about 90 acres of the township. The supervisors also previously awarded the base bid for the project in the area of Meadow Drive and Fawn Court to Greensburg-based RJF Development Corporation.
District solicitor Ned Nakles said the project involves “some land that had never been used by EWCTC way in the back area. There has been terrible flooding and stormwater drainage problems, so the township supervisors partnered with EWCTC and what’s done has not only helped the land the school is sitting on, but has really helped a lot of the neighbors, both above the school and particularly below the school, people that were really struggling with flooding.
“It’s been one of those projects where two governmental units come together and work together. The supervisors have been teriffic, and the school has provided land and catch basins. It’s been a really great project.”
Also Thursday, the board — as it has done annually — voted to direct the superintendent and central administration team to study professional district staffing needs based upon instructional program requirements and student enrollment; determine the minimum professional district staffing needs for the upcoming school year, and make recommendations to the board during February and March based upon consideration set forth in the public school code, concerning whether any temporary or professional employee position should be maintained, added, reduced or eliminated during the 2022-2023 school year.
Also, if a recommendation is made for elimination or reduction of positions, implement the established procedures through termination of specific temporary professional employees, suspension of specific professional employees or demotion, and obtain approvals from the Pennsylvania Department of Education that might be required for alteration or curtailment of programs.
Another step includes notifying any temporary and professional employees who may be affected and consult and work with district legal counsel to ensure correctness and completeness of the process.
Also Thursday, the board held an executive session before the meeting for student and legal issues.
In other business, the school board approved:
- An extended absence for employee No. 303, as per the DAESPA contract, effective Jan. 12;
- A 12-week family medical leave for employee No. 478, effective Dec. 1, 2021;
- A 12-week intermittent family medical leave for employee No. 112, effective Jan. 22;
- A 12-week family medical leave for employee No. 494, effective Feb. 23 or date of disability as determined by the physician;
- Resignation of Saveria Weimer as PCA, effective Dec. 18, 2021;
- Resignation of Amanda Calabrace as a cafeteria aide, effective Dec. 20, 2021;
- Resignation of Tammy Manuel as PCA, effective Dec. 23, 2021;
- Resignation of Brooke Nixon as PCA, effective Dec. 23, 2021;
- Resignation of Johnathan Kim as technology director, effective Jan. 21, with a 60-day hold from the date of notice through Feb. 18 or a date mutually agreed upon;
- Resignations of Mary Beth Allison, Michelle Henderson and Florence Prato, for the purpose of retirement, effective at the end of the 2021-22 school year;
- To rescind the offer of employment for Joseph Brecht, as approved during the Oct. 28, 2021, special meeting, due to the candidate receiving other employment;
- Resignation of John Yakopovich as an outdoor custodian, for purpose of retirement, effective July 1;
- To employ Stacey Holzapfel as a cafeteria aide at a rate of $9 per hour, effective Dec. 20, 2021;
- Additions to the substitute employee list for the 2021-22 school year;
- To employ Abigail Fry as a personal care assistant for the 2021-22 school year;
- To employ Julie Talcach as a personal care assistant for the 2021-22 school year;
- For Jessica Gordon to attend SAP Training presented by the St. Vincent Prevention Project, held in Latrobe, retroactive to Dec. 7-9, 2021, at a cost of $330 to be paid with district funds;
- For Greg Ferencak to attend the virtual New Superintendents Academy Conference — Part 3, presented by PASA, on Jan. 20-21 at a cost of $249 to be paid with district funds;
- For Scott Chappell and Jacob Guiher to attend the virtual PASBO Annual Conference on March 8-11 at a cost of $400 to be paid with district funds;
- Denny Myers as a volunteer coach (middle school softball), effective for the 2021-22 school year;
- To appoint Bill Feldbusch to the Westmoreland Intermediate Unit board for a term commencing July 1, 2022, to July 1, 2025;
- Dr. Steve Pratt of Freedom Dental Center as the school dentist for the 2021-22 school year at a rate of $7 per exam and $21 per hour for an assistant. The previous rate, approved in June 2021, was for $7 per exam and $17.50 per hour;
- For Natalie Stauffer, a sophomore at Greater Latrobe, to enroll in the Derry Area ag/hort program, effective for the second semester of the 2021-22 school year;
- A resolution to provide an extension of a real estate tax exemption for the construction of new dwelling units within the school district through Dec. 31, 2024;
- A resolution to provide an extension of a real estate tax exemption for commercial, industrial and business real estate within the school district through Dec. 31, 2024;
- Tuition and service agreement with New Story Schools for the 2021-22 school year;
- Adelphoi Village day treatment supplemental contract for the 2021-22 school year;
- Field trips and after-school activities, pending global health conditions at the time of the event;
- An agreement between the school district and Digital Forensic Solutions for a cyber and plant security assessment at an approximate cost of $15,700, to be paid for by the PCCD Meritorious grant ($13,300) and the general fund ($2,400);
- To advertise for bids for the installation of access points and cable runs purchased through the federal E-Rate Category 2 program at an 80% discount. Chappell said the discount percentage, which he noted is typically 60%, will make the project cost between $20,000 and $30,000, depending on bids received. He added that the awarded bid will replace access points at Grandview Elementary School, which were last installed during the 2016-17 school year;
- A contract between the school district and CCL Technologies to complete firewall installation and configuration, at a cost not to exceed $5,000;
- Memorandum of understanding between the Derry Borough Police Department and the school district to extend the current police agreement until March 31, 2022, at a cost of $3,500;
- Letter of agreement between the school district and Southwest Pennsylvania Human Services for the period of Jan. 1 through Dec. 31, 2022;
- Hearing waiver memorandum in student discipline incident Nos. 243, 244, 245 and 246, with dates ranging from Dec. 17-21, 2021.