KINGSTON — The Wyoming Valley West’s final budget for 2013-14 failed to win approval at Wednesday night’s school board meeting.
Brian Dubaskas, James Fender, Gary Richards and Thomas Pieczynski voted against the $65.87 million budget, which would raise property taxes from 13.82 to 14.15 mills.
A mill is a $1 tax on each $1,000 of assessed property value.
Members Gordon Dussinger, John Gill and David Usavage voted for the budget; member Joseph Mazur was absent. During the work session that preceded the meeting, Joe Rodriguez said the budget reflected the district’s increasing costs and stagnant revenue. The proposed millage increase would cost the owner of a $100,000 property about $33, according to Rodriguez. Pieczynski’s objection to the budget was a line item contribution of $91,000 to the Hoyt Library and another $30,000 to the Plymouth Library. Richards also objected to this line item. Fender and Dubaskas cited more general objections to the budget. Both said that spending should be decreased. By state law, the district has until June 30 to pass a final budget. The board will meet again next Thursday with the aim of agreeing on a budget. During public comments, one resident asked if an orchestra teacher was going to be moved from the high school to the elementary school. “There was a music position eliminated,” Gill said. But he said he didn’t know that the high school would be affected. Resident Ed Gustitus of Kingston brought up many problems he saw with the district. “I’d like to know what you’re doing to save money.”
He added, “You better do your job.” After the meeting Richards commented on his “no” vote. He said, “We need to do more for our students.” Fender said of his objection to the budget, “We’re still doing the same things we did in the 70s and 80s but the funding is no longer available.” He said he is not for cutting programs but for looking into different delivery methods for those programs. In other matters: · Longtime advocate for trees, Carol L. Seltzer of Forty Fort, asked for permission to have her handyman mend a school fence on Oak Street. The board had already prepared a liability release which will allow her to make the repairs. She also reminded board members that they had promised her last year to replace a memorial tree that was removed from the front of Dana Street Elementary. Board member Dubaskas promised the tree would be planted. · The board approved a number of positions, including Mary Crater as a math teacher at the high school and Paul Broody, Doug Mucha and Nick Podolak as special-education teachers.
The board has scheduled a special session at 7 p.m. June 27. The meeting will be in the middle school conference room.