LEWISBURG — Directors of the Lewisburg Area School District voted to deny a regional charter school application that was the subject of a Sept. 18 hearing in Mifflinburg. There were no dissenting votes among the eight board members present. The New Berlin Regional Charter School group had sought to establish an environmentally oriented school serving grades K-5, potentially attracting students from the Lewisburg, Mifflinburg and Selinsgrove school districts.

“The application was lacking in many areas,” according to Superintendent Dr. Mark DiRocco, who noted that the group was asked to submit a draft of its curriculum at the September hearing attended by representatives of all three districts. The superintendent said a disc containing a curriculum was dropped off only on Wednesday of this week.

“It just typifies the entire application,” DiRocco said, and added that there was not enough time to have all board members review the curriculum summary thoroughly. Delaying a vote on the matter would have exceeded a state-imposed time limit to make a formal decision, rendering it approved by default.

Votes on the regional charter school are expected soon in the Mifflinburg and Selinsgrove area districts. DiRocco and board president Kathy Swope will compile comments from the September hearing, attended by representatives of all three districts and the charter school group and, as required, send them on to the Pennsylvania Department of Education.

Preliminary budget gap

Rough estimates for the 2013-14 school budget were presented to the board Thursday night. A budget deficit of $652,087 was projected in the draft version, as local real estate tax revenue was expected to drop by 0.3 percent if tax rates stay at their current levels. Benefits for employees are projected to jump to $6.9 million, roughly 23 percent of the budget. The school district will be required to pay a higher percentage to the employee retirement fund, and 9- to11-percent increases of medical insurance rates are expected.

Budget Director Ron Kabonick said the budget projection did not consider a 2 percent increase in property taxes. He noted that the 2 percent increase the district is allowed under Act 1 without being granted an exception, is just enough to pay for an increase in retirement fund rates, and nothing else.

The district is required to pass a tentative budget by the end of January, but won’t know state education spending levels until the governor’s proposed budget plan is released in February.

Lewisburg school calendar changes

Two school days canceled by weather conditions associated with Hurricane Sandy will be made up. Monday, Nov. 26 and Friday, Feb. 13 will now be school days. DiRocco noted that Nov. 26 is the opening day of rifle deer season, and arrangements will be made for students who do not attend class that day to make up any work they miss.

Lacrosse field maintenance

The board voted 8-0 to pay the Susquehanna Lacrosse Club for maintenance of the field used by the Lewisburg Area High School lacrosse team. The club will seed the field for the spring interscholastic season. The $511 payment is about half of what the club estimates is needed to fix the field that is actually owned by the Winfield Fire Department. DiRocco noted that the price is relatively small, and the district would not be able to have a high school lacrosse program without it.

Psychiatric hospital agreement

The board approved a letter of agreement with the Meadows Psychiatric Center near State College, to provide educational services to Lewisburg district students admitted to the Meadows Treatment Facility. Prior to approving the measure without dissent, board members were told that there would be a $30 per hour fee imposed.

Staff Writer Matt Farrand can be reached at 570-742-9671 or via e-mail at matt@standard-journal.com.

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