LERTA Blues, New Assistant Superintendent – Greencastle-Antrim School Board Meeting Recap

GREENCASTLE – Thursday night’s School Board meeting, 1 February 2024, kicked off with a somewhat lengthy discussion regarding the approval of Resolution No. 1 of 2024. This resolution involves the amendment and extension of the LERTA (Local Economic Revitalization Tax Assistance) Program, meant to provide tax exemption for certain properties within specific deteriorated areas. It will authorize a LERTA extension for a limited number of properties, as well as the possibility for consideration of new projects on a case-by-case basis.

Vice President Janon Gray immediately spoke out against the resolution, stating that he “[could] not keep subsidizing corporate entities on the backs of Greencastle’s taxpayers.” Gray expressed concerns about ill-defined criteria for allowing properties to claim LERTA exemptions. Dr. Carter Davidson agreed, asserting that many community members were against it on the basis that they would have to make up for the loss of township revenue such exemptions would cause. He also claimed that the council was making a rash decision, and that the resolution would simply provide additional funds to people who didn’t really need them.

President Eileen Dickinson disagreed with Gray and Davidson. She argued that the facilities utilizing LERTA exemptions would benefit the community and provide revenue in the long run. Alana Michael concurred with Dickinson, declaring that the Board could use LERTA exemptions as incentive for lucrative companies to settle in the area and thereby grant students internships and work positions. Davidson pushed back against this with the assertion that there were already several Greencastle companies offering students opportunities without the need for LERTA incentives.

Ultimately, the resolution was approved, with Gray, Davidson, and Jacob Burns against and the rest in favor.

The Superintendent’s report followed, beginning with the approval of the title and job description for the role of Assistant Superintendent. Dr. Edward Rife was subsequently appointed to fill that position for the next five years. The Board authorized the 2024-2025 Program of Studies, which included important additions such as financial literacy, art, and theater. It also approved several other leases and contracts, including: the Apple lease schedule for classroom equipment; an agreement for internet services; the Educational Technology Management contract with Questeq; and a contract for physical and occupational therapies with Phoenix Rehabilitation Services. The report concluded with a reminder that the meeting on Feb. 15 will include approvals for spring coaches.

All personnel items and conference requests were approved. Dr. Lura Hanks will attend the 2024 PARSS (PA Association of Rural and Small Schools) Conference on April 24-26, while Amy Crider and Emily Trace will attend the Pennsylvania Educational Technology Expo and Conference on Feb. 4-7.

The meeting concluded with the Chief Financial Officer’s report. The invoices as listed on bills for the General Fund ($4,638,932.99) and Student Activity Fund ($2,994.36) were approved. The 2024-25 Lincoln Intermediate Unit General Operating Budget was also approved, as well as the revised Administrative Organizational Chart.