LancasterOnline’s Debbie Wygent, once again, seems to be the only reporter willing to give traditional coverage to the Octorara Area School District.
The current budget represents an increase of $903,844 — or two percent — from the current year’s spending plan. It would raise real estate taxes for Lancaster County taxpayers by 1.09 percent to 27.79 mills while Chester County taxpayers would pay 36.8 mills, a .38-percent increase.
Board members approved the plan 7-1, with Bob Hume voting against it. Henry Oleyniczak was absent from the meeting. (Read more…)
In addition to the current proposed budget, and potential cuts, Wygent also highlighted an IRS audit…
Additionally Business Manager Dan Carsley reported that the district is being audited by the Internal Revenue Service, which is looking into the 2009 bond financing of the high school renovation project. Carsley said the district will formally answer questions about how long the district has had the money, what it was used for, and what procedures the district has in place for continued reporting on active bonds.
In a related matter the board approved a post-issuance tax compliance procedure for tax-exempt and tax-advantage bonds, as recommended by bond counsel.
…and how teachers get special benefits from Pennsylvania law.
Reviewed personnel items, including one that prompted disgruntled comments from a school board member. Leon Lapp was incredulous that a teacher could be granted a sabbatical leave for a year at half pay and with full benefits.
Superintendent Tom Newcome said teacher sabbaticals are allowed under the federal Public School Code and are part of the current teacher’s contract.
“I’m trying to think how I can do this in my business,” said Lapp.
Teacher sabbaticals is one of those laws which had good intentions when enacted, but today places undue burdens on school districts.
An Octorara teacher can take the year off, get paid $33,000 plus benefits, while the district must pay the additional cost of a replacement. If the teacher is using this time to complete their Master’s degree or Doctorate, they return with a healthy pay raise and tuition reimbursement. Mr Lapp is right upset that the law gives this special privilege.
Of course, what school district will spend millions to fight this in court, which would have to be taken all the way to Supreme Court of Pennsylvania?