Parkland School District homeowners, read John Vignone's lips: No new taxes -- above 2.1 percent.
Qualifying statements aside, the district's business administrator was "pleased" to broadcast the news during Wednesday night's board of directors meeting.
The board made it official when they approved an Act 1 Resolution Not to Exceed Index.
In plain language that means directors will not increase "any tax for the support of the school district at a rate that exceeds" the 2.1 percent for the 2014-2015 school year.
In even plainer speak it means directors are capped at increasing taxes to no greater than .29 mills from 13.83 to 14.12 mills which translates to $29 a year for a $100,000 assessed property or $87 for a $300,000 dwelling.
Of course, the tax hike could be less.
While expected, Wednesday's official move is still welcomed by the district, which has applied for what is known in the education business as "special exceptions" with the commonwealth for years, giving them the ability to hike taxes above 2.1 percent.
The district's financial fortunes glisten "positive in the short-term," Vignone reported to board members, although "long-term it's very difficult to project."
Why? On the glass half-full side Vignone noted the district's revenue projections have increased by more than $4.2 million from the 2013-2014 campaign thanks to an increased tax base and earned income revenue.
Local revenues make up more than 82.5 percent of the Parkland School District's total 2014-2015 budget, according to a chart supplied by Vignone, with the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania contributing just over 16 percent and the federal government about 1.3 percent.
On the half-empty side the number-crunching administrator told board members the district's interest on investments is practically non-existent.
"It's as though we have to pay banks to hold our money," he said, to illustrate the sad state of affairs the district has in the conventional investing world.
He recalled a time recent enough not to have to jog's one memory too hard where the district made good money drawing interest on their money.
But the biggest fissure ahead is the "uncertainty" that engulfs basic education funding, the confounding economy and volatile PSERS rate, of which Director Mark Hanichak chimed in on speaker phone was akin to "kicking a snowball down the hill," a more precise and perilous position than what President Roberta Marcus assigned as "kicking the can down the road."
Whatever you call it just call PSERS obligations the district nightmare that keeps scaring. With total projected costs in the 2014-2015 budget projections of more than $15.2 million at a 21.40 PSERS rate it will remain a serious concern for years ahead, noted Vignone.
The district has until May 20th to adopt a proposed budget, with final budget approval slated for 34 days later, on June 24th.
In a workshop session prior to the regular board meeting, directors heard an in-depth presentation of a proposed Standards-Based Elementary Report Card for the 2014-2015 year.
The new report card will "communicate with parents and students about the achievement of grade level expectations."
The new report card will have categories such as "Characteristics of a Successful Learner" featuring categories delegated as Respectful Citizen, Responsible Learner and Student Effort.
Core Academics include the Language Arts and Mathematics with Encore Subjects of Art, Media Center, Music and Physical Education.
Teachers will grade students with four standard marks, three characteristic marks and provide comments meant to clarify or expand upon the formal grading structure.
Directors will vote to approve the measure at the January 28th meeting.
If approved, the district will hold parent forums to explain the report cards in-depth at each elementary school beginning in March.