Cynthia O'Hora photo

Cynthia J. O’Hora - Selinsgrove School Director
Founding father, George Mason put it well, "A man may be as warm in a coat that costs Ten shillings
as in one that cost Ten pounds."

Selinsgrove Area School District Strategic plan - our priorities.

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What do the letters mean?

 

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Contact:

Cynthia J. O'Hora
100 Stetler Ave,
Shamokin Dam, PA 17870

 


I have not linked this info to avoid spamming.

 

updated 5/25/07

This site is not affiliated with Selinsgrove Area School District and does not reflect the official position of the Selinsgrove Area School Board.

Goals: Control costs - it is your money.

April 2009 - When you attend a school board meeting, you can obtain many financial documents, district proposals, district plans, and reports. This important information is provided to the board members before each meeting. In the interest of informing the community, these public documents are now being posted online, in the school district's web site, after each meeting. The agenda (without addendum) and minutes for each meeting have been posted online for several years. See: All Bills Lists online Your right to know information.
Contractual Information | Financial Info | Committee Reports | Yearly Financials

The Property Tax and Rent Rebate program forms are now available. This rebate benefits eligible Pennsylvanians who are 65 and older; widows and widowers who are 50 and older; and persons with disabilities who are 18 and older. In 2006, the General Assembly raised homeowner income limits to $35,000 annually, excluding half of Social Security income, and the maximum rebate was increased to $650. If you have not received an application form, they are available from Sen Gordner 570-743-1918 and Rep Phillips 570-286-5885.

In 2007 & 2008 I proposed participating in the State's Common Cents program. It provided a free audit of the district to ID ways we could save your tax dollars. It would review administrative spending, not classrooms. It was rejected both times.

Costing Out Study - the new state school funding formula is based on this information.

Hidden Costs of High School Exit Exams Centre for Education Policy - When the exam is aligned with standards that are implemented comprehensively the costs are low. Minnesota was cited as an example. Their cost was $37 per pupil needing remediation to pass.

2008-2009 Budget - The administration proposed a budget that exceeded the ACT 1 Index (5.6% of last year's property tax rate) allowed for our district. They received approval from the state for several exceptions. The Budget the Board approved does not use any of the exceptions. Money from the Fund Balance (district savings account) is used to make up the difference. The budget is a public document. All citizens may ask to see it or for a copy at the district main office during regular business hours. School board adopts $32.29M budget The Daily Item 5/20/08

$ - Pension contribution rate no gift to Pa. school districts - Pennsylvania School Employees' Retirement System adopted a rate of 4.76 percent for the fiscal year that begins July 1, citing the pension fund's improved investment performance. The current rate is 7.13 percent. The PA. Education Department is recommending that districts stick to the current rate. 12/2007

$ - I voted against adding the locker rooms to the elementary building project. I believe the renovations have been shanghaied for the building of more athletic facilities. SASD has invested millions in athletic faculties and programs over the past 5 years. It is time to constrain this spending.

$ - I proposed the District participate in the state's Common Cents program to find ways to save money. I believed it was an opportunity to demonstrate to the taxpayers that SASD is effectively using their tax dollars. It is always beneficial to review processes for cost effectiveness. Unfortunately, the motion failed. This was my second effort to propose a review of spending. Earlier in 2007, I proposed that the district call on all employees to identify opportunities to save money.

$ - I have voted against adding clerical time.

Selinsgrove receives Dual Enrollment grant for second year. SASD has received the grant for the third year.

High School Reform Grants for 2007-2008 announced - Selinsgrove Area High School gets $48,454 grant.

Ten Steps to a Lower Property Tax Bill

Tax Fairness: video from Local Tax Reform Education Project.

I have worked with multi-million dollar budgets in the health care industry. They face many of the same challenges that education does. These challenges include increasing expectations and standards, the need to control and reduce costs, plus reductions in Federal and State funding.

I am conservative regarding school spending. I support a strategic alignment & utilization of staff, facilities, time, fiscal resources and technology. I have attended the last 5 year's budget negotiations of the district.

Is $34.06 Per Hour 'Underpaid'? "According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, public school teachers earned $34.06 per hour in 2005, 36% more than the hourly wage of the average white-collar worker and 11% more than the average professional specialty or technical worker." "Higher teacher pay seems to have no effect on raising student achievement. Metropolitan areas with higher teacher pay do not graduate a higher percentage of their students than areas with lower teacher pay." Manhattan Institute for Policy Research

"How Much Are Public School Teachers Paid?" report released 1/2007

Breaking the Piggy Bank: How Illegal Immigration is Sending Schools Into the Red

Gathering Storm Soaring costs for health care benefits and Pension Benefits threaten district's bottom line.

Deadlines are looming for new financial-reporting rule on long-term costs for benefits

PPL raises rate hike estimate for 2010

Proposed SASD Preliminary Budget for 2007-2008 online

Back-end Referendum Exception sought to raise taxes above the 4.3 percent index. Approved by PDE

May 7, 2007 - I voted NO to spending an estimated $500,000 to add office and storage space to the district administrative offices. The Intermediate School was built to house over 1000 students. Current enrollment there is under 600. Enrollment is predicted by the PDE to continue to decline. Space could be converted to provide necessary office and meeting space. Additionally, when the renovations at Selinsgrove Elementary are completed all K-2 students will be there. This frees up the empty Jackson Penn building for storage and/or administrative office space.

August 8, 2006 - Act 1 of 2006 (Pennsylvania Taxpayer Relief Act) requires each school district to set up a Local Tax Study Commission by Sept. 14, 2006. The commission may comprise either five, seven or nine members. The structure of the commission must reflect the socioeconomic, age and occupational diversity of the school district. One member may be a school board director. No appointee can be a school district official or employee, or relative of someone affiliated with the school.

I encourage any resident who is interested in serving on this commission to contact the school district or the board. The main office is 372-2201.

April 2006 - It was proposed to raise taxes 2.99 mills. Act 72 guidelines would permit the Board to raise taxes this much without a voter referendum.

I advocated for constraining the budget through cost containment measures - Using the resource rich Access Pa Power Library (which we already have and you paid for) rather than buying magazines at the HS AND MS. I was unsuccessful.

In response to calls for constraint, Dr Johnson cut all books for all the libraries, nearly all the technology purchases proposed and cut the sidewalk installation project which was proposed for the safety of walkers along 18th Street. Dr. Johnson made no cuts in his administrative budget nor in the $54,000 spending increase he has proposed in the Athletic Budget.

I support the current plan to cover 1 mill out of the fund balance. This will mean a 2 mill increase.

 

Set a goal to save 10%

Just like people in their homes, the district should examine what they do looking for potential savings.

The district sends home many forms and informational papers with each child. In a family with several children this means the same information is sent home 2 and 3 times. I proposed using a family count system. Important papers are sent home with the oldest child. This would substantially reduce the total amount of papers sent home. Individual buildings could still send home information unique to them.

The district should make greater use of free resources to extend and enrich the student's learning experience. Examples: PA Power Library, EconomicsPennsylvania, Science in Motion. Resources through the local libraries like One Book, One Community and Tutor.com. Nearly countless web based resources are also available.

The district is required to provide for continuing education for our faculty. We should focus those dollars to the goals of the district's Strategic Plan and to critical issues like mathematics instruction. Primary focus should be on courses that help teachers improve instruction and classroom management, comply with regulations, and make effective use of technology. Use free resources first. Teacher to Teacher Initiative / Online Professional Education Network (OPEN) / Pathways to Performance

Actions: I am encouraging use of the SASD website to provide wellness information as outlined in the proposed wellness policy. Also the use of Internet based, free resources like Five a Day to provide lessons to students on good nutrition AND teach them the use of technology at the same time!

 

Live within the community's means.

We should actively pursue alternatives to raising taxes to increase revenues.

I support the district controlling the rising cost of energy. Set building thermostats at 68 degrees just like the Commonwealth is doing. Use daylighting to reduce electric bills. Shut down computers that are not in use.

I applaud Mr. Varner and the maintenance department for working to convert emergency exit sign lighting to LEDs.

Actions: I did not support adding 2 more sports to the High School. I did not support purchasing a phone system addition costing @$10,000 to record phone calls. I did not support buying a tractor for $29,000 for Ag Ed. A course is offered in the area, in the spring, through the Extension office at a cost of $25.

I supported this fiscally conservative approach to All Day K. The original plan called for $15 million in building plus additional costs for staff.

I voted for the Johnson Controls Contract which will save the district tens of thousands of dollars in energy and water bills by making repairs or modifications to existing systems. The cost of the contract will be paid for by the savings so that in the end there is no additional cost to the taxpayers.

 

When cuts are necessary...

We should not be cutting core academic programs without also cutting extracurricular and athletic programs. In the 2005-2006 budget, the athletic fund got another $10,000 increase. In 2006-2007 the increase was $20,000.

Growth of extracurricular and athletic programs, at the expense of all taxpayers, is unacceptable. I voted NO to adding 2 more varsity sports Girls & Boys Lacrosse 2/25/06. I voted no to adding them as club sports in 08.

I see a value in the many extras that are provided by public schools. I believe in individual responsibility. I believe that students and their parents should contribute more to the funding of extracurricular and athletic programs.

The Activity Fee - students who paid the activity fee are able to get into any district sponsored sporting event held in the district at no further cost. This does not include PIAA events.

Currently, athletes pay a once a year $25 Activity Fee the year. This allows them to participate in all sports. I believe they should pay $25 for each sport they choose to do. (Students who qualify for free or reduced lunch are not charged this fee. I support this.)

Students who enroll in extracurriculars participate for free. If the extracurricular program incurs costs to the district, the students should pay the $25 Activity fee. Example: Forensics

I support the Pay to Participate concept.

 

Salaries for school board directors

I do not support the current movement to pay school board directors in Pennsylvania. I will not vote for any salary for School Board Directors.

I do not support the new board policy that gives them free admission to all district events. I believe it is important that board members pay admission just like: parents, grandparents and the community. It has always been my policy to pay when attending events, even when I was volunteering or was given a free ticket. I will continue to pay admission to school extracurricular events.

I attended the 7-8th grade chorus concert in December 2005. I gave a $10 donation.

I attended the fall play at the high school 2006 I paid admission and a donation. also 2007 & 2008.

I attended the High School Choirs Holiday concert 2006 with my spouse we paid admission.

I attended the High School Band Guest concert 2007 with my spouse we paid admission and gave a donation.

 

Maximize use of existing resources

I will encourage the district to make use of their website to inform the public about all aspects of the district.
Including: District report cards, annual Financial Reports of the Selinsgrove Area School District, Administration, faculty and classified staff contracts, faculty qualifications, and the complete Annual Budget by cost centers.

Health care costs

I believe employees and school retirees should bear the cost of increasing health insurance premiums that is greater than the rate of inflation.

In the new teacher contract teachers are paying a greater share of their health care coverage costs. 2/25/06

 

Prior postings:

Local Tax Study Commission Public Hearing Meeting - Thursday November 16, 2006 at 7:00 PM in Room A103 in the Middle School. Call Jeff Hummel if you have any questions.(372-2209) ACT 1 Tax Commission Application and Information

Nov 20, 2006 - 7:30 pm - Regular meeting - EI Associates will make a presentation regarding the Elementary Building project.

October 2005

I continue to support Act 72. I believe that Act 72 is a valuable tool for controlling costs. (Act 72 was repealed by act 1 of 2006.) Taxpayers should have a greater voice in how their tax dollars are spent. School Boards must not continue to tax people out of their homes. More - does not mean better. 8/10/06 Act 72 has been repealed. It has been superceded by Act 1 of 2006 - Pennsylvania Taxpayer Relief Act.

 

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