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Indian River Board of Education passes nearly $80 million budget

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PHILADELPHIA — Almost half a million dollars was tacked onto Indian River Central’s 2013-14 budget before it was approved Thursday night by the Board of Education.

The $79,997,181 budget includes a new pool scoreboard and a redesigned bus loop for Indian River Intermediate School.

Appropriated fund balance — the amount to be used to offset a tax increase — was increased from $17,655,455 to $20,654,899.

The budget will increase the overall tax levy by 2.5 percent, a slight decrease from the 2.59 percent projected at the board’s March 21 meeting.

“I’m comfortable with those figures,” said board member Linda M. Capone.

The new projects will add $469,477 to next year’s budget.

At the meeting, Business Manager James R. Koch proposed returning the bus parking lot project to the budget.

“I was the one that made the recommendation to pull it,” he said. “At the time, it was about finding approximately $40,000 to fund it.”

He also was the one who recommended the proposal in December. With an increase in students projected for next year, the number of buses picking them up would have to increase as well. Without the project, Mr. Koch said, buses would have to be “nose to tail,” rather than staggered as they are now, to fit in the intermediate school bus loop.

Currently, students tend to walk between the buses rather than across the central designated walking path.

With buses “nose to tail,” a student could be critically injured between two buses if one of the buses lurched forward due to a malfunction.

Thanks to a surge in federal high impact aid, the district needs to spend money fast within certain parameters in order to keep getting this type of aid.

“If you do it in this budget, it doesn’t run up your per-pupil expenditure that would impact (high) impact aid,” Mr. Koch said.

Several other board members agreed to adding it back in the budget.

“We have the funds now to do it,” Board of Education President Frank J. Laverghetta said. “It’s a safety issue, which is why it was originally looked at.”

Board Vice President Thomas L. Lapp agreed to support it because it was about safety.

Board member Peter D. Shue was worried that future construction projects would wreck the proposed lot. Mrs. Capone echoed his concerns, saying that all contracts with construction companies should be airtight to make sure they repair anything they ruin.

Additionally, the nearly 20-year-old pool scoreboard, which originally was set for repair, will be taken down and replaced with a newer model.

Mr. Koch said the home and guest scores were consistently not showing up.

Mr. Lapp said a repaired scoreboard would have a maximum of five more years left.

“In five years, I don’t know what our fund balance is going to be,” Mr. Lapp said. “I don’t know what our revenue will be.”

Mr. Koch said replacing rather than repairing the scoreboard is a $9,929 difference.

Other items added to the budget include $101,000 for insurance and $7,000 to compensate teachers for returning in the summer to finish the last portion of their teacher evaluations.

“We said, ‘Whoops, we just thought about that one,’” Mr. Koch said.

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