By David Lindenmuth
SHENANDOAH - The Shenandoah Valley School Board held it's April meeting on Wednesday night, and among the agenda items was the final 2017-18 budget. The budget, which doesn't include a tax increase, was approved in an 8-0 vote.
The general operating budget for 2017-18 stands at $17,860,608, an increase of $18,.955 from 2016-17. Real Estate taxes remain at 56.975 mills.
Prior to the vote, Board Member Thomas Twardzik read a statement written by the late Board Member Richard C. Zimmerman. Zimmerman outlined the state of the system the Commonwealth uses to fund its public schools, noting how it doesn't fairly fund schools which need more funding for special education, ESL, and other programs. Zimmerman also noted in the statement the exponentially rising cost of district contributions to pension plans, and the effect it has on budgets.
"Public Education must have more money and fewer mandates to fulfill its mission of educating our children. We also need a more equitable distribution plan for that money so all school districts in Pennsylvania have a fair shot at providing a comparably fine education. Without addressing fairer funding, creating an adequate overall tax plan to fund public education, and enacting serious pension reform, the rally cry of eliminating property taxes is a magician's misdirection." the statement continued.
The vote included the following tax schedule with no changes from the current fiscal year. Taxes marked as “shared” are divided for distribution, with 50 percent to the school district and the remainder to the school district’s municipalities, Shenandoah and West Mahanoy Township.
.Also at the school board meeting, several students from across the district were honored for various accomplishments.
Devin Davis, 18, Weston Place, a senior at Shenandoah Valley High School, was recognized at the meeting for becoming the first Eagle Scout from a Shenandoah troop in 36 years.
In order to earn the distinction of Eagle Scout, Davis had to complete 12 elective merit badges and a community service project. His project was one which benefits the entire athletic department at Shenandoah Valley.
"My project was to remodel, refurbish, and reuse all the weights and equipment up in our weight room so that people had a nicer weight room and help show our school spirit and pride, so that everybody could come up there and enjoy weightlifting too." Davis told those gathered at the school board meeting.
Also recognized at the board meeting were two students who won awards at the Schuylkill County Regional Computer Fair, one of whom will be travelling to Carlisle to compete in the Pennsylvania State Fair.
Kaitlyn Hepler won first prize in the regional computer fair for her animation project A Day on Mars: Stop-Motion Animation. The award advances her to the state fair, held on May 23rd at Dickinson College.
Hepler also placed 2nd in Web Design at the regional fair, as part of a team with brother Gabe Hepler and Justin Tietsworth
The website was designed as a photography portfolio for Tietsworth.
It was also revealed that the meeting would be the the last Shenandoah Valley board meeting covered by John E. Usalis from The Republican-Herald.
"I appreciate your integrity, your honesty, and your fair reporting towards this board at all times. Thank you, John." Board President Daniel Salvadore said during the meeting.
In other business, the Shenandoah Valley School Board