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Wayne Independent - Honesdale, PA
  • NEIU budget concerns board

  • VARDEN - An important topic of discussion took place at the monthly Western Wayne School Board meeting after several members expressed concern with a bill the district has to pay for the Northeastern Educational Intermediate Unit (NEIU).
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  • VARDEN - An important topic of discussion took place at the monthly Western Wayne School Board meeting after several members expressed concern with a bill the district has to pay for the Northeastern Educational Intermediate Unit (NEIU).
    The NEIU #19 budget for the 2014-2015 school year has been sent out to its affiliated school districts in Wayne, Lackawanna, Pike, Susquehanna and Wyoming Counties.
    The estimated share from Western Wayne is $85,352.06.
    When the bill came to a vote before the board, four members were against it. Those members were Donald McDonough, Gary Podunajec, Vice President Donald Olsommer and David Lindow.
    Even with their objection, the motion passed 5-4.
    The NEIU is an educational service agency that works with school districts as a “link between member school districts and the Pennsylvania Department of Education.”
    The NEIU supplements and supports local schools in their efforts to “educate all students through education, collaboration and innovation.”
    They offer the following services: administrative and business management, data processing, curriculum and instructional, personnel and management, management information, continuing professional education, educational planning and special education.
    McDonough requested to explain his decision behind objecting the motion.
    “I can't figure out why we pay more than a school that is bigger than us,” he said. “I think it should be based on student population. The formula needs to be revised.”
    For an example, McDonough picked out Valley View and Montrose School Districts, who have a bigger student population but are paying less.
    “I'm not happy with how it's being evaluated and it should be changed,” added Podunajec.
    The formula used by NEIU to calculate how much each school district will pay each year.
    Some of the money for NEIU is aided by the state as well.
    “To our understanding it's partly based on student population and partly based on taxable property in a district,” said Treasurer William Gershey. “It's a complicated formula. The value of the property is a major factor. Since our district is large geographically we end up paying more.”
    The contributions for the 2013-2014 school year for Western Wayne, Valley View and Montrose were as follows:
    • Western Wayne-$83,848.72
    • Valley View-$41,694.62
    • Montrose-$27,981.89
    Gershey said in the case of schools like Valley View and Montrose, they have a “similar enrollment” as Western Wayne, but their taxable real estate in the districts is smaller.
    The Western Wayne School District stretches from Clinton Township to Sterling Township.
    The board members were in agreement about not knowing everything that is factored into the formula by NEIU.
    Page 2 of 2 - “It was probably done fairly when it was enacted, but as time changed it didn't,” said Podunajec.
    The NEIU said the general operating budget is divided into seven areas of service, with three being acted upon by the schools. They include administrative, curriculum and instructional and management information services.
    All seven programs are funded by the following sources:
    • Local sources-43 percent
    • Local school district withholding-30 percent
    • Federal sources-Six percent
    • State sources-21 percent
    From there, the formula gets tricky. The school district withholding is determined by this formula, which is mandated in the Pennsylvania School Code.
    According to the NEIU, major factors in the formula are the individual district's market value aid ratio and weighted average daily membership. These components are given to NEIU, where they calculate the “actual amount” to be withheld from the school district.
    Other business
    The board authorized the participation of Western Wayne in the join purchasing of copy paper and #2 fuel oil through NEIU #19.
    McDonough said last year the best rate they could find was $2.91 a gallon with heating the buildings.
    “We are looking at other options,” he said. “That's the best we were able to get.”
    Superintendent Clay LaCoe said EverGreen Elementary has its own geothermal system. He also said they are looking into the possibility of natural gas or propane at Robert D. Wilson Elementary.
    Propane could possibly be used for the other buildings.
    “In order to run natural gas to the high school and middle school, we would have to run a new line from Route 296 by the Crossroads in Waymart all the way to the school,” he said. “It would pay for itself over time, but right now it's not feasible.”
    • The high school will have their musical, Guys and Dolls, on April 12 at 7 p.m. and April 13 at 2 p.m. Tickets are $5 for adults and $3 for children and seniors. Western Wayne students are free with student ID.

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