BLOSSBURG — A preliminary view of the 2020-21 budget for the Southern Tioga School District was presented during the school board meeting on Monday, Feb. 10.

Business manager Bonnie Thompson and superintendent Sam Rotella explained this was a first look at what has been drafted.

The preliminary budget is “zero based,” meaning it starts at zero and without a specific allocation to any one area. It does include personnel requests and district goals. It also doesn’t account for any change in real estate taxes, which would decrease the revenue by $104,217.

The preliminary revenue estimates $35,442,639 in expenditures and estimates $33,811,284 in revenue. This would be a $1.6 million shortfall.

Revenue streams are currently unknown at the local, state and federal level. This includes real estate taxes, the Governor’s budget and Title Program allocations.

Current millage is 17.41 mills for Tioga County and 17.89 mills for Lycoming County, in which two townships — Cogan House and Jackson Township — are within the Southern Tioga School District. The board previously voted not to raise taxes by more than 3.4%; if the district opted to raise taxes by 3.4%, Tioga County millage would increase to 17.97 mills and Lycoming County would increase to 18.72 mills.

The preliminary budget reflects increases based on bargaining agreements, ongoing negotiations for professional staff, resignations, six retirements, two new elementary school teachers and one administrative position, along with healthcare and PSERS employer contribution rates.

The board will vote on adopting the proposed final general fund budget during a special voting meeting prior to the board work session on May 4, with the vote for adoption of the final budget on June 8.

Amanda Capone, school counselor and career pathways coordinator, presented a new scheduling idea to the board. After working with education professionals and a scheduling committee, Capone said they found students and teachers want real-life skills, teachers want to be able to collaborate and both want individualized learning for students and more choices for learning. This led to looking at different scheduling options and landing on a flex period and a trimester schedule.

The flex period is similar to an extended Mountie Minutes or Tiger Time, Capone said, where students can schedule their time within that block.

Capone said she’d like to look at the feasibility of a trimester schedule at the high school.

“It allows for some acceleration. Sometimes we feel like we’re holding back students that can probably go further,” Capone said, and that third trimester allows them to take the next level, but also allows students to get more support in areas where they are struggling.

This at a preliminary stage right now. Rotella said they’d like to explore a trimester with a flex period next year in both high schools. There’s a feasibility plan in place for North Penn-Liberty and Capone has been in touch with North-Penn Mansfield.

This may impact graduation requirements, as a teacher can only teach six classes in a trimester year, as opposed to the seven classes taught now. It’s having the biggest impact on physical education requirements. Down the road, she might ask the board for approval to lower the physical education requirements from two credits to 1.5.

The next board meeting will be 6:30 p.m. on Tuesday, March 3 in the professional learning hub.