Abington Heights School Board members pass preliminary budget, cut staff through attrition

By Robert Tomkavage - rtomkavage@timesleader.com | May 24th, 2016 4:34 pm

CLARKS SUMMIT — Members of the Abington Heights School Board voted, 9-0, to approve a preliminary budget of $48,171,108 with a 2.4 percent tax increase for the 2016-17 school year during a meeting May 18.

According to Abington Heights Superintendent of Schools Michael Mahon, the 2.4 percent tax increase would net the district just under $600,000.

Board members will vote to approve a final budget June 22.

Mahon added the district is planning cuts to professional staff through attrition.

“We are looking to reduce staff in the following areas: assistant superintendent, one physical education position, one library position, one teacher who taught both English and social studies, one teacher who taught both French and Spanish and two elementary school positions.

“It’s very tentative and if elementary classes go above 26 students another section would be created,” Mahon said.

Mahon is also requesting the board to approve the addition of a mathematics position at the high school.

“We are having phenomenal growth at the high school in our computer science area,” Mahon said. “It was a point of emphasis and our AP courses are full and spilling over into other sections. We want to meet this growing need, which we anticipate growing further as we focus on elementary and middle school. During this year, we want to develop another course in computer science to be offered at the start of next year.”

According to Mahon, the proposed cuts coupled with the new position would result in a savings of $690,000 toward next year’s budget.

“Even with the tax increase and cuts, there is a $2.35 million deficit,” Abington Heights Business Manager James Mirabelli said.

Junior Dagny Rippon addressed the board regarding the French 3 honors course at the high school, which is in danger of being cut due to the retirement of a teacher.

“I’ve found a passion in learning the French culture and language, and so have many of my peers,” Rippon said. “Those of us who have been recommended by our teachers and guidance counselors to take the AP French course have proven we’re ready for the challenge. My peers and I want to take this class not only because we will need its material in our future careers but also because we’re excited to further our French skills.”

According to Abington Heights Principal Pamela Murray, there are four students signed up for AP French and 10 total students in all class levels of the language.

“My recommendation, driven by the budgetary crisis we’re facing, is for the board not to fill the position and as a result there would not be an AP (French) class at the high school,” Mahon said.

Mahon announced the district’s girls lacrosse program has been accepted to join the Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association (PIAA), with an official decision to be made July 1.

Wayne Stevens, Bill Riiff and Mike Naholnik inquired about starting a boys club lacrosse program, however Mahon was hesitant.

“Administration will recommend against the expansion of lacrosse to boys at this time,” Mahon said.

In other business:

•Board member Gregory Madensky was appointed as treasurer for the 2016-17 school year.

•Members of the board approved the resignation of Assistant Superintendent of Schools Thomas Quinn, effective June 30.

•Members of the board approved Andrew Snyder as Abington Heights High School principal, effective July 1.

Members of the Abington Heights School Board will hold a work session at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, June 1 at the Abington Heights Administration Building, 200 E. Grove St., Clarks Summit.


By Robert Tomkavage


Reach Robert Tomkavage at 570-704-3941 or on Twitter @rtomkavage.