Warren School Board Proposes Tax Levy Increase in New Budget

The Warren School Board’s recent meeting centered on the presentation and discussion of the tentative 2024-2025 budget, which proposes a tax levy increase of 3.61%. The budget aims to address the district’s increasing enrollment and rising costs in health care, out-of-district tuition, and pension contributions. The meeting also touched on a community member’s concerns regarding the sex education and health curriculum, leading to a resolution for the review of the district’s opt-out procedures.

The budget presentation, led by School Business Administrator Christopher Heagele, was a focal point of the meeting. Heagele expressed thanks to the finance committee for their support and described the comprehensive process used to create the budget, which took into account various financial drivers. The board learned that the district’s enrollment numbers are on the rise, which requires careful planning to maintain the current class size guidelines. Contractual salaries, healthcare costs, out-of-district tuition, and pension contributions were also identified as significant contributors to the budget.

Heagele further outlined the revenue sources for the district, which include state aid, interest and investment income, summer program tuition, preschool program revenue, and Medicaid reimbursements. He noted efforts to mitigate expenses, mentioning that budget managers were tasked with reducing their budgets by 10% and that a thorough analysis of historical financial data was conducted. The aim of these efforts is to ensure that the proposed budget would support basic skills, advanced reach programs, summer programs, as well as special education and mental health services without compromising class sizes.

The proposed budget includes a 3.61% tax levy increase, and Heagele presented an analysis of the potential impact on residents with different assessed property values. The board did not engage in debates or express disagreements regarding the budget presentation during the meeting.

Another issue arose during the public commentary sections of the meeting. A member of the community raised questions about the engagement of third-party providers for the district’s sex education and health curriculum. This individual also voiced support for the board to consider shifting from an opt-out to an opt-in procedure for these programs. In response to these concerns, the board passed a resolution directing a committee to review the district’s opt-out procedures and to report back with conclusions and recommendations.

In other discussions, updates were provided on ongoing negotiations with the Warren Teachers Association (WTA). Additionally, the Finance, Operations, and Security Committee reported on their unanimous support for the tentative budget and mentioned the development of a five-year Capital Improvement Plan. The Negotiations Committee also provided insights into their ongoing negotiation sessions with the WTA.

Towards the end of the meeting, another community member inquired about the reliance on third-party providers for the health and physical education curriculum, echoing earlier concerns. These issues, alongside others related to collective bargaining and the acquisition of real property, were addressed by the board in an executive session.

The meeting concluded with the board scheduling a public budget hearing for the following week and recommending the budget for review by the county superintendent’s office. The board then went on to adjourn and end the meeting.

Note: This meeting summary was generated by AI, which can occasionally misspell names, misattribute actions, and state inaccuracies. This summary is intended to be a starting point and you should review the meeting record linked above before acting on anything you read. If we got something wrong, let us know. We’re working every day to improve our process in pursuit of universal local government transparency.
Dr. Matthew Mingle
School Board Officials:
Patricia Zohn, Laura Keller, Mehul Desai, Natalie Feuchtbaum, Richard Molfetta, Scott Otto, Stephen Toor, Ryan Valentino, Todd Weinstein, Matthew Mingle (Superintendent of Schools), Christopher Heagele (School Business Administrator), William Kimmick (Assistant Superintendent), Stacey Hann-Modugno (Curriculum Supervisor), Molly Lange (Director of Special Services), Lance Riegler (Director of Information Technology), Cheryl Hall (Transportation Coordinator).

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