Tom Caruso

Tom Caruso

MIFFLINBURG — Mifflinburg Area School District directors resolved on Tuesday night to not raise property taxes beyond the limit set under the Act 1 index.

The resolution, as in January in previous years, was done in lieu of adopting a preliminary budget. If directors raised taxes to 13.85 mills, the top of the Act 1 limit, the owner of a property assessed at $100,000 would owe $1,385 annually.

If the district needed to raise taxes above the Act 1 limit, Tom Caruso, district business administrator, said the district would have to apply for budget exceptions.

To apply, a preliminary budget would need to be approved which would demonstrate the need to raise taxes above the limit. Caruso said considering the positive fund balance the school district currently has, budget exceptions may not be approved.

Caruso cautioned directors that funds through Homestead/Farmstead exceptions may not be available as the school budget and state budget seasons unfolds. The money comes from state-sanctioned gaming.

He noted that district finances have been more dependent on local sources in recent years. A about a decade ago, Caruso said they were split about 50% between local and outside sources.

A final budget and tax rate for the 2021-22 school year is not due for adoption until the end of June.

Superintendent Dan Lichtel said in-person education resumed Monday after a period which included remote learning due to contacts and cases of COVID-19 and a holiday break. He observed people were glad to be back and the district’s intention was to keep at it, but be ready to pivot to remote learning if necessary.

“Siddhartha,” by Herman Hesse was maintained as instructional material for English language arts (ELA) classes. The novel contains references to Buddhism and other eastern religion as its title character searches for an enlightened state of being. Content considered controversial includes Siddhartha’s consorting with Kamala, a prostitute.

The book was endorsed by Nolan Betz, a 2018 graduate, during submitted public comment. He credited the book for encouraging him to be a more well-rounded student. It’s value, he noted, was because the content was not familiar and made him expand his horizons.

Lichtel noted that a cover sheet was being prepared to be included with the book to make the educational objective as clear as possible. Parents would also be advised as to educational options available.

“Siddhartha” was approved 6-2 with dissenting votes by directors Mindy Benfer and Francis Gillot.

Directors accepted a $4,700 donation from the Alumni and Friends Association. It was noted that it would be used to support virtual learning in Kindergarten through Grade 2.

Director Bob Mulrooney was absent from the Tuesday night meeting.

Staff writer Matt Farrand can be reached at 570-742-9671 and via email at

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