GROVE CITY – The COVID-19 pandemic continues to have a large impact on Grove City Area School District’s budget for the 2021-22 school year.

Board members approved the preliminary budget on May 10; projected expenses are currently $45,383,023, and revenues, $43,387,536, leaving a gap of just under $2 million.

“Overall, the budget is lean,” said Doug Gerwick, board president.

Without federal COVID funds, the district would be operating at a deficit this school year, he said.

That money allowed the district to use federal dollars for COVID-related expenses, and similar funding is available for next school year and possibly the following year.

The district will be buying additional Chromebooks so that the oldest ones can be replaced. That will help ensure that each student has a Chromebook. The computer devices have been used on a regular basis for remote learning.

This fall, the district will continue to offer several options for instruction, and most of those expenses are covered by federal COVID relief funds, Gerwick said.

Board members noted that it’s been about three years since property taxes have gone up, and they’re still discussing next year’s tax rates.

They’re also interested in developing a long-term plan for the district’s needs over the next five to 10 years. 

Board members say the board as a whole takes its duties very seriously, working to provide for the students’ education with quality teachers, facilities, materials and support staff, and they know those things come with a cost covered by taxpayers.

“We will not act in haste, but will develop a plan to ensure that Grove City Area School District and our students will succeed well into the future,” Gerwick said.

Current property taxes are 63.98 mills. They went up by 1.98 mills for the 2018-19 school year. 

Under state Act 1, the district can raise property taxes by a certain amount without voter approval or a special exception from the Pennsylvania Department of Education. 

For 2021-22, Grove City Area School District’s Act 1 index is 3.9 percent, which is equal to 2.48 mills. School districts in Pennsylvania must adopt a final budget by June 30. 

Also at the May 10 meeting, board members approved several administrative measures.

Dr. Brendan Smith was named high school principal; he had been serving as interim principal following Dr. Rae Lin Howard’s departure in December.

Howard is now assistant to the superintendent at the Pleasant Valley School District in Brodheadsville, Pa.

Dr. Jennifer Nemet was named high school assistant principal, which was previously held by Smith. She had been named the interim assistant high school principal in January.

Kevin Persch was hired as the new elementary assistant principal, effective June 7. He replaces Dr. Andrew Kemper, who now works for Sharpsville Area School District as director of student services.

Persch had been working for Lakeview School District as a social studies teacher in the middle and high schools.

A board work session plus standing committee meetings are set for 7 p.m. June 7, followed by the voting meeting on June 14.

For agendas and meeting connection information, visit www.grovecity.k12.pa.us

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