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MUHLENBERG TWP., Pa. – At its regular meeting Wednesday night, the Muhlenberg School Board received the best overall summary possible for the financial and compliance audit for the 2018-2019 school year, conducted by Herbein + Company, Inc. No findings of non-compliance were found.

Highlights of the report were presented by a representative from Herbein.

The school district was $1.2 million above revenue estimates, and expenses were $562,000 below. Both items were within 1% of projections.

Fund balances totaled $11.8 million, of which $5.7 million were unassigned fund balances. There was a $4.4 million restricted funds balance and $3.3 million in capital reserves.

"This board worked hard to ensure that the district was in a solid place. Our high bond rating saved over $100,000 this year," said Otto Voit III, the board's president. "For next year I'd like to start the budget process at a zero tax increase for the year."

Superintendent Joseph Macharola reported that he and several other Berks County school superintendents recently met with state education leaders in Harrisburg. All agreed that one of the biggest issues that the state faces is a state-wide teacher shortage. Macharola said that the state officials would like to see the starting salary for teachers raised to $45,000 a year. Muhlenberg's current starting salary is $42,800.

Another big issue in Harrisburg, Macharola said, is student mental health.

"Muhlenberg is ahead of the curve [on student mental health]," he said.

Before moving into the business part of the meeting, the board recognized member John W. Love for his eight years of service on the school board.

Other business

The board approved a transfer from the general fund to the capital reserve fund in the amount of $1,644,948.

The board accepted the resignation of Patrick Sisk, varsity football head coach, effective Oct. 30. It also accepted the resignation of Joseph P. Ferro, Muhlenberg High School spring musical sound engineer/adviser, effective Nov. 4.

The board authorized the advertisement of bid supplies and equipment for the 2020- 2021 school year and to participate in the Berks County Schools Joint Purchasing Program for: athletic supplies, art supplies, custodial supplies, furniture, general classroom supplies, technology education supplies and equipment, musical instruments, science supplies & equipment, audio-visual supplies & equipment, physical education supplies & equipment, medical and nursing supplies, bread, ice cream, juice, fuel – unleaded gasoline and diesel fuel, office and business equipment, and paint and paint supplies.

The board approved the memorandum of agreement between the Muhlenberg School District and St. Bonaventure University to provide field placements for the school counseling program for students from St. Bonaventure University, effective Aug. 31, 2019, through June 1, 2021.

The board resolved to remember the passing of Michael Bussell, who served in the Muhlenberg School District as a custodian from 1996 to 2016. The board resolved to convey deepest sympathy to his family, and that this resolution be made part of the permanent record in the minutes of the Muhlenberg School District.