Greater Harrisburg's Community Magazine

School board to vote on tax hikes, staff cuts in budget meeting next week.

The Harrisburg School Board will hold a special meeting on Tuesday, May 29 to vote on its proposed budget for the 2018-2019 school year.

The most recent budget proposals call for hiking taxes by 3.6 percent and eliminating 31 teaching, administrative, and support positions — steps that administrators say are necessary as the district tries to plug an $8 million deficit.

The meeting will be held at 6:30 p.m. in the Lincoln Administration Building at 1601 State Street.

The first budget vote was originally scheduled for the Monday, May 21 board meeting. However, that vote was postponed as the board devoted most of its session to discuss the future of superintendent Sybil Knight-Burney, whose contract with the district expires June 30.

The board voted to retain Knight-Burney for at least three more years.

Business manager Bilal Hasan said that the district must vote on its budget at least 30 days before it is officially due to the state Department of Education.

The most recent budget proposal from the district business office calls for the elimination of 31 employees across the district, including assistant principals, counselors, security personnel, teachers and district administrators.

Last week, teachers appeared before the board to protest cuts to administrative staff and ask for positions to be eliminated in the district’s central administrative office instead.

The cuts would narrow the district’s projected deficit from $8 million to $5 million for the 2018-19 school year, if the board authorizes maximum tax hikes.

The district has not levied a tax hike since 2012, but, this year, administrators are proposing an increase of 1.0008 mills, or 3.6 percent of its current 27.8 millage rate – the maximum rate allowed under the Act 1 Index.

With a median home value of $42,800, the tax hike will cost the average city homeowner an additional $43 a year, Hasan said in April.

Budget projections presented last month call for the board to authorize tax hikes of the same magnitude every year through 2021, one year after the district is expected to deplete its $21 million fund balance.

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