Wayne Highlands School District adopted its 2008-09 budget by unanimous vote in the amount of $40,086,702.

Wayne Highlands School District adopted its 2008-09 budget by unanimous vote in the amount of $40,086,702.

“Our increase in our budget over 2007-08 budget is $1,450,461, which is [a] 3.75 percent increase, which is below the rate of inflation,” said School Board President Mike Augello.

Property taxes are up from 12.0486 mills to 12.7112 mills.  So, a property owner with an assessed value of $100,000 will pay $1271.12 in property tax for 2008-09 or an increase of $66.26 over last year.  All other school taxes remain unchanged, he said.  Augello says increases in the budget are primarily due to: salaries, benefits, fuel and transportation costs, along with low State subsidies.  

 “One mill of property tax generates $1,869,630 in gross revenue for the District,” he said.

Augello said with retirements in the District, they’ve reduced the professional staff by 1.6 positions. Augello said new teachers’ salaries are generally less than long-standing teachers, so the District will save money there as well.

Augello commended the board, administration and staff, saying their job as Board members is to weigh the students’ needs and community needs and try to find that “magic point” of balance. When it comes to taxes, Augello said, “There are things that we’d like to control, that we’d like to change, but are helpless to do. We have to sit back with our fellow taxpayers and pay the bill ...We’re taxpayers like everyone else. When taxes go up, we pay those increases.” 

 Homestead & Farmstead Exclusion
The Board adopted the Homestead and Farmstead Exclusion Resolution. “Act 1 provides for slots money to reduce taxes for homestead and farmstead ...Gaming funds available are $1,153,334.77 for Wayne Highlands,” said Superintendent Tom Jenkins. The number of homestead properties in the district is 4,899 and farmstead properties are 513. Jenkins said the maximum Real Estate reduction per property is $214.83. The maximum Real Estate Assessed Value reduction per property is $16,901.

“Every year, the amount of money (gaming funds) will be different. It’s based on how much money is taken in by the slots parlors every year in the State and a percentage of that goes to school districts ...Then, we divide that money by the number of qualifying properties; that’s the homesteads and farmsteads combined,” the Superintendent told The Wayne Independent.  “People will not get a check for that amount. When they get their school tax bill, there’ll be an explanation on their assessed value of their property [that] has been reduced.”

New hires
The following teachers have been hired by the District:
• Rebecca Senft, Reading Specialist for grades first through fifth.
• Kyle Curtis, First Grade Teacher at Preston School.
• Kimberly Gumble, Language Arts Teacher for seventh through eighth grade at Damascus.
• Melina Kinsman, substitute Teacher Assistant.
• Jason Smith, part-time Art Teacher for Stourbridge.
• Brenna Creech, Learning Support Teacher, Preston School, for grades sixth through eighth.
• Courtney Hopkins, Learning Support Teacher at Wayne Highlands Middle School, for grades sixth through eighth.
• Heather Puhalla, Learning Support Teacher for the Lakeside School.
• Matthew Rickard as a Technology Teacher at Honesdale High School.
Fred Smith was hired as a full-time custodian at the Damascus School and Jason Farrell was hired as a full-time “floater” custodian. 
Diane Zintel was appointed Assistant Board Secretary.