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A real estate tax increase of 2.7 percent could be in the works next year for the Mechanicsburg Area School District.

On Tuesday night, the Mechanicsburg school board heard that the district is proposing to spend $74,545,884 for the 2019-20 school year. That includes an estimated spending increase of $4,026,856.

Even with a proposed 2.7 percent tax increase, the district will still have a deficit of $1,722,579 for next year, district business administrator Gregory Longwell said.

The remaining deficit would be covered by district reserves already designated for line items like employee health care that is expected to increase by $500,000 next year, and mandated contributions to the state Public School Employee Retirement System, up by $407,614 for 2019-20.

A 2.7 percent tax increase meets the index set for the district by the state Department of Education for the 2019-20 fiscal year from July 1, 2019, to June 30, 2020. The increase proposed by the district includes a 1 mill increase that would be applied to the district’s debt service, part of an ongoing four-year plan initiated in 2018-19 to fund renovations and/or expansions to all district buildings over the next several years.

The proposed tax increase would raise the district’s real estate tax levy from its current rate of 13.3693 mills to 13.7303 mills for 2019-20.

A property owner assessed at the district’s average value of $186,200 would pay an annual total of $2,557 in real estate taxes for the upcoming fiscal year that begins July, an increase of $68, or “$6 per month,” Longwell said.

District administrators are proposing to add 15 staff positions next year to serve a student enrollment that’s projected to reach 4,460. At the elementary level, this would include five regular classroom teachers and two fine and applied art instructors. For the middle school, this would mean an additional math teacher and one more science teacher so each of the school’s grades could be evenly split into three student teams. A new instructor for health/physical education also is proposed for the middle school, as well as an additional building nurse at the elementary level.

Superintendent Mark Leidy said more staff is needed for the district to keep its current teacher/student ratio.

“If we were a business, then business is booming in Mechanicsburg, but that doesn’t work for school districts. Our enrollment is increasing, but our revenue isn’t,” Leidy said on Tuesday.

The school board is scheduled to vote on a proposed general fund budget for 2019-20 on May 14, followed by a vote on next year’s final general fund budget on June 4.

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