HONESDALE—The Wayne Highlands School District (WHSD) Board of Directors voted unanimously to adopt their preliminary 2019-2020 school year operational budget last Tuesday evening, February 19, showing an overall tax increase of 3.375 percent.

The details of the $58 million preliminary budget were hashed out at a special meeting held on January 30.

According to the minutes from the January 30 meeting, the tentative millage rate was set at 18.104 mills.

One mill represents $1 paid on ever $1,000 of assessed property value. Under the proposed millage, a property assessed at $100,000 will pay $1,810.40 in real estate taxes to the school district.

Since the tax increase is above the state's base index of 2.3 percent, WHSD is awaiting approval for an Act 1 exception from the Pennsylvania Department of Education (PDE).

According to the district's Notice of Act 1 Referendum Exception, “As a result of special circumstances covered by an Act 1 referendum exception, a tax rate % increase above the index is required to balance the School District budget for the next fiscal year. This tax increase is required to provide a quality education program as reflected in the School District's 2019-20 Preliminary Budget.”

According to PDE's website, exceptions can be granted to balance the budget for certain school construction costs, special education expenditures and contributions to the Public School Employees' Retirement System (PSERS).

Above-index tax increases can be approved by PDE or via voter referendum at the May Primary Elections.

The preliminary budget is available for public review at the District Office (474 Grove Street, Honesdale) Damascus School (174 High School Road, Damascus), and Preston School (1493 Crosstown Highway, Lakewood).

Taxpayers and district residents can present a written request to obtain a copy of the referendum exception application.

In a separate budget matter, WHSD approved the Northeast Educational Intermediate Unit (NEIU)-19 budget for 2019-2020.

WHSD's share will be $73,572.16, a decrease of $141.60 over the 2018-2019 share.

Policy approvals

The Board approved a suite of district policy revisions. Directors Kathleen Grandjean and Thomas Dirlam were not present at the meeting to vote.

Approved via 6-1 vote with Board Vice President Lothar Holbert voting no were policies 103, 103.1 and 104 (dealing with nondiscrimination), 222 (Tobacco/Nicotine), 247 (Hazing), 249 (Bullying/Cyberbullying), 323 (Tobacco/Nicotine) and 904 (Public Attendance at School Events).

Approved unanimously was policy 707 (Use of School Facilities).

Other business

The WHSD Board of Directors also approved a list of spring coaches and advisors, and contracts for spring 2019 athletic transportation.

In a separate matter, the district approved advertisement for bids relating to art, athletics, custodial supplies, health, office supplies, science, second class supplies and technology education.