Montrose School Board holds line on taxes

Taxes in the Montrose Area School District remain level this year with the board setting the 2020 tax rate at 50.2319 mils at the Monday, June 8 meeting. The board also approved a final expense budget for the upcoming school year of $27,133, 953.

Collection days for real estate taxes offer a two percent discount window for payments made July 1 – Aug. 31. Taxes can be paid at face value from Sept. 1 through Dec. 31. Taxes are considered delinquent if paid after the last day of the year.

Property owners qualified to receive the homestead/farmstead exemption will see a reduction to their tax bills of $364.01.

Also approved were motions establishing the board’s intention to commit funds to offset PSERS cost increases and also to commit 2019-20 gas lease royalties for district capital projects.

The board approved the utilization of $256,000 of the district’s committed fund balance to address curriculum costs in the 2020-21 budget.

Effective July 1, Greg Adams will transfer from his position of elementary principal to the district’s Director of Special Education. Adams has served as the principal at Lathrop Street Elementary and headed up Choconut Valley for the past year. Adams replaces Special Education Director Kelly Jo Riker who is returning to the classroom.

Several other transfers were also noted during the work session: Anne Lathrop will move from Lathrop Street third grade to a fourth grade Choconut Vally classroom; Cortney Fowler will move from Special Education to fourth grade at Choconut Valley; Sue Capwell moves from fifth grade math to sexth grade math at Lathrop Street; and Pat Matthews will move from Special Education at Lathrop Street to Special Education at Choconut Valley.

Christine Casey will take on the role of District Technology Coach. Casey had been teaching fourth grade at Choconut Valley.

Superintendent Chris McComb said that increased tech would be a very likely component of the coming school year. “More than ever, that position is important,” McComb said.

He also noted that Capwell move was necessitated because of the class numbers and will help keep the class sizes consistent.

McComb said the district is working through the process of position transfers – looking at the open positions, as well as reviewing letters from staff members seeking a position change.

The board also accepted, with regret, the resignation for purpose of retirement of Lathrop Street music teacher Nino Bennici, effective June 27, contingent upon acceptable memorandum of understanding with the Montrose Education Association.

Principal Adams, who worked with Bennici through the years at Lathrop Street described him as a “kids’ first teacher” and current Lathrop Street Principal Karen Ricci said he is respected by the staff and by the community for his concerts, including the annual Veterans Day program at the school. “He will be missed,” Ricci said.

Board member Gloria Smith offered, “I can’t say how much I appreciate him as a person and his work for the district. He’s a great man.”

Lunch prices will be 10 cents more in the coming school year, as the board approved the raise from $2.45 to $2.55.

Food services director Betsy O’Malley explained the federal equity equation necessitated the raise in the price. The district is reimbursed $3.09 per lunch for those participating in the free lunch program. “They don’t want federal and state reimbursements to subsidize full-paying students,” she said.

The board plans to convene on June 16 to discuss refinancing the district debt, and discussed available options during Monday night’s work session.

McComb said the board will need to meet in July in order to approve a reopening plan for the fall, as required by the state.

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