The Fairfield Area School District board hiked taxes and adopted the 2019-20 budget Monday.
The budget shows projected revenues of $18,578,267 with expenditures at $18,621,998.
The deficit of $43,731 will be covered by dipping into the general fund balance, which will still have over $1.5 million available for emergencies and future expenses.
Meeting the district’s increased expenses, including debt service for the $10.4 million bond to address climate control overhauls, required raising the real estate tax rate by 2.7 percent to a millage rate of 10.74.
The vote to approve the budget was unanimous with Lonny Whitcomb Jr. and Rebecca Bequette absent.
The deficit may increase slightly as a result of a motion by Apryl Huster to explore reinstating a kindergarten aide position to full-time.
Huster said she had received multiple communications from parents concerned about maintaining a high-quality kindergarten program. The school expects higher kindergarten enrollment this coming year.
It proved to be Huster’s final motion as a board member. In an emotional statement after all business items were concluded, she resigned from the board because of her family’s upcoming move to Maryland.
“When I moved to this community 15 years ago, I had no idea how much it would come to mean to me,” Huster said in her letter of resignation.
Expressing gratitude for her fellow board members’ dedication and “extremely hard work,” she urged them to continue striving for excellence.
“Fairfield can become the premier district in Adams County,” she said.
Residents of the school district interested in filling the board position vacated by Huster’s resignation may request an application from the administrative offices.
Adding her voice to the call for a full-time aide was Linda McMullen, a teacher who is retiring after 23 years teaching kindergarten at Fairfield.
Speaking during the public comments portion of the meeting, McMullen explained the challenges faced in welcoming youngsters to their first public school experience.
Some new enrollees “enter kindergarten already reading, some know only six letters; some can count to 15 and others to 50,” she said.
“Aides are so essential in balancing the playing field so every child can reach their potential,” she said.
A long-time Fairfield kindergarten aide’s position was reduced to part-time a few years ago, resulting in her losing benefits. McMullen concluded that the affected employee works with “less compensation, near minimum wage, and has more responsibilities.”
In additional budget-related discussion, Huster and other board members expressed the hope that a Spanish teaching position can be provided in the near future.
In other action, the board reappointed Marcy Van Metre as its treasurer.
The next board meeting will be held on Monday, June 24, at 7 p.m. Due to the closure of many school facilities during the climate control upgrade work, the meeting will take place at the Fairfield Borough Hall at 108 W. Main St.