Octorara OKs budget with tax hike for Lancaster County district residents

The Octorara Area school board Monday night gave unanimous approval to a $47,492,791 spending plan for the 2013-14 school year, along with a new five-year contract for Superintendent Thomas Newcome II.

Lancaster County residents who live in the district will see a .8 percent tax increase, which will bring their millage rate to 27.71.

Chester County district residents’ tax rate will remain unchanged at 36.33 mills.

Business Manager Dan Carsley said the difference is due to calculations by the State Tax Equalization Board.

The district is using just over $1 million of its $6.1 million in reserves to balance the budget, which calls for no tax increase for Chester County residents, where the millage rate will remain 36.33.

The budget is up an overall 1.8 percent, an increase of $828,416. Home owners who have signed up for Act 1 will each have their tax bills offset by about $240 from gambling revenue.

Newcome and other administrative staff also will assume additional responsibilities this fall as the district named Elena Wilson, former elementary school principal, director of curriculum and instruction, while keeping the administrative roster to 14.

School board President Lisa Bowman said Newcome’s contract, which runs from July 1 through June 30, 2018, was actually negotiated in January after Newcome had been a superintendent candidate in another school district. She said the board wanted to keep Newcome, extend his contract, and also ensure the contracts of key administrators don’t expire at the same time.

Bowman said the main change in Newcome’s contract is in salary. The superintendent was set to earn $146,000 during the 2014-15 school year, the final year of his former contract. Under the new contract Newcome will earn $142,000 during the final contract year, 2017-18.

Bowman said Newcome is keenly aware of the district’s financial situation and agreed to an immediate salary reduction of $8,200 and a final salary of $4,000 less than the figure called for in his former contract. She thanked Newcome for working to reduce operating costs while maintaining high standards.

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