May 9, 2018
Dear Mars Area Community,
Completing an annual budget is always a difficult task. Expenses continue to rise; however, state and federal funding has not kept up with our local demands.
For the last 10 years, Mars Area School District has worked hard to maintain instructional programs that enabled us to “live within our means.” We have been blessed to live in a growing area and this has allowed the District to keep up with our growth without raising taxes for local taxpayers.
This year’s budget finds us at a crossroads with program growth and a dire need to address our facilities at the middle school. That is why the District asking our local taxpayers to contribute an additional 2.4 percent in taxes moving forward.
The increased taxes will bring in an additional $610,000 per year that will be used to continue our efforts to improve the programs and learning spaces for our students.
In the tentative 2018-2019 General Fund Budget, the District is happy to announce the following additions to our school programs:
- Expanding our Guidance Department with an additional counselor for Grades K-12
- Hiring a full-time Literacy Intervention Specialist in the elementary grades
- Implementing a Multi-Tiered System of Support
- Introducing a new Life Skills program in Grades K-4
- Introducing the “Rachel’s Challenge” Positive School Culture/Anti-Bullying Program for students in all grades (K-12)
- Initiating a comprehensive construction project at Mars Area Middle School
Unfortunately, with these important additions, come difficult decisions to trim in other areas:
- Removing independent music lessons from Middle School students, which will result in a reduction of our music staff by one teacher
- Removing the Ninth Grade Football Team (those students will play on the JV Team)
- Not replacing two retirees at the elementary level
- Realizing savings through contracted services
Overall, the District’s tentative 2018-2019 General Fund Budget is able to meet the demands of our growing District. These demands include increasing fixed costs, expanding curriculum, improving special education programs, and improving school climate. This budget is an indication that the Board of School Directors and Mars Area School District’s Administration will meet these demands now and into the future.
Dr. Wesley Shipley,