Last updated: February 20. 2013 2:51AM - 566 Views

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Tracey Halowich, Director of Curriculum Instruction and Assessment for the Lake-Lehman District, announced at the Jan. 14 school board meeting that the science curriculum would change beginning in 2013-2014 in order to better prepare students for the Biology Keystone exam.

She explained that proficiency on the exam will be a requirement for graduation beginning with the class of 2017. The changes will affect students who are currently eight-graders and younger. Incoming seventh-graders will take physical science classes next year.

Next year's ninth-graders will be required to take biology which will create a one-year increase in sections since 10th-graders will also take the course.

Halowich said the faculty is already working on solutions on how to deal with 13 sections of biology, adding that some teacher assignments will change.

The curriculum change is intended to better prepare students for the Keystone exam and the course will be offered as both a regular and an honors option.

Halowich also said the history and English curriculum will change in 2014-15, as well. The new curriculum will feature content connecting the periods of history studied and the literature of those periods. Halowich said this is another effort to prepare students for mastery on Keystone end-of-course exams.

The more connections we can make, the more successful they (the students) will be, she said

A tax increase for Lake-Lehman School District seems almost inevitable after a lengthy presentation to the board by Tom Melone, of Al Melone and Associates, the district's financial manager.

Melone and his associates are currently projecting a $2.1 million shortfall for the 2013-14 school year if the board does not request a tax increase.

He pointed out that the state-allowed tax increase of 2.1 mills would not cover the projected retirement cost increase for the district in the 2013-14 school year. A mill is a $1 tax on each $1,000 of assessed property value.

According to Melone's presentation, the estimated increase in retirement benefits paid by the district would be more than $600,000 over the current year's retirement costs. He said the state would cover a portion of those retirement benefit costs but that a 2.1 mill rise in taxes would not generate enough revenue to cover the remainder.

Melone said the district could apply for an exception based on increased retirement benefit, allowing the board to raise the taxes by a total of 3.9 mills.

Lake-Lehman is one of a few districts in the state which lies in two counties. The current millage rate for Lake-Lehman residents living in Luzerne County is 9.27 while those living in Wyoming County are assessed at a millage rate of 53.46.

Several residents questioned board members about their efforts in reducing costs. Board members replied saying they worked on the budget every week. They cited numerous issues, including the large number of fixed salary costs to the district, the legislated but unfunded cyber school payments the district must make each month and the increase in retirement benefits which must be paid.

Board Treasurer Andrew Salko praised the cooperation of the school administration, saying the board is working hard to avoid cutting programs such as music and sports as other districts have done. We're trying to avoid the easy cuts, he said.

Superintendent James McGovern told the board and assembled residents that the field turf must be replaced.

It's a liability to the health and welfare of students, McGovern said of the current field.

He said that under current budgetary restraints, the funds for new turf would have to be raised. He announced a cooperative fundraiser called A Night of Mayhem which would involve many of the district's booster clubs. He said the groups would work together as one and would represent a big step for the district. He said the joint fundraiser would be a universal effort and that it would create positive energy for our district.

At the board meeting, the three elementary campuses were all honored for achieving their AYP (adequate yearly progress) goals in 2010-11 and 2011-2012.

Next year's ninth-graders will be required to take biology which will create a one-year increase in sections since 10th-graders will also take the course.

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