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KC board approves $82M 22-23 budget; no tax increase

MILL HALL — The Keystone Central School Board made quick work of approving the 2022-2023 budget, which features no tax increase.

The $82,467,833 budget was approved unanimously by board members Elisabeth Lynch, Jeff Johnston, board president Tracy Smith, David Dietrich, Roger Elling and Boise “Bo” Miller. Board members Wayne Koch and Polly Donahay were absent from Thursday’s voting session.

With the budget passed, the millage rate per county looks like this: Clinton County (13.35 mills); Centre County (41.63 mills) and Potter County (49.79 mills).

During a previous budget discussion, business manager Susan Blesh reviewed aspects of the budget such as major expenses. As far as operating budgets are concerned, there are classroom budget requests ($101,367) and support budget requests ($347,572). As far as personnel budgets are concerned, there is a reduced benefits subsidy ($202,575) and budgetary contingency ($229,007).

A big part of the classroom budget requests, Blesh explained, were coming from the need to cycle out old furniture, primarily desks and chairs.

“As we go through the buildings and look at our furniture, and as we see the amount of time that our property services individuals have spent repairing desks and chairs and all of those types of things, we realize that it’s a need to get on a furniture replacement cycle,” Blesh said during discussions in March.

Attrition and resignations are expected to save the district $880,521 and, in all, the district’s fund balance should be around $15 million.

The 2022-2023 budget comes out to be less than the current 2021-2022 budget, which was about $82,897,797.

In other news, superintendent Dr. Jacquelyn Martin provided an update regarding COVID-19 protocols and contact tracing during her report.

“With positive cases of the COVID-19 variant becoming more prevalent, I wanted to provide all of you with an update on the district’s plan for contact tracing and quarantining procedures which have recently changed due to updated Centers for Disease Control (CDC) guidelines,” Martin said.

The same information Martin shared in her report, was also sent out district-wide to parents in a letter the following day.

In regards to contact tracing, Martin said pertaining to SARS-CoV-2, the district “will abide by, to the maximum extent possible, any contact tracing, isolation and quarantine requirements issued by the Centers for Disease Control/Pennsylvania Department of Health/Pennsylvania Department of Education.”

According to a February statement by the CDC, Martin said contact tracing and universal case investigations were not recommended for the virus.

The district is continuing to follow its Health & Safety Plan to finish out the 2021-2022 school year which includes: layered mitigation strategies such as masking; additional cleaning ventilation measures; and promoting hand washing and respiratory etiquette.

“However, we will no longer be conducting contact tracing or requiring quarantines based on updated information from the (CDC),” Martin said.

Martin said the district is continuing to encourage any employees or families who become positive for COVID-19, or are in close contact with a person who tests positive, to isolate and inform close contacts to potential exposure.

The school board will meet for a work session on June 9 at 6:30 p.m. in the administrative board room. The meeting will also be available online via Zoom on the district’s website.

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