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Related Story: School taxes may be paid at discount through Sept. 14
Many property owners in the McKeesport Area School District will be unhappy when their tax bills begin arriving next week.
School property taxes for the 2018-19 school year are increasing 2.11 mills this year, to 19.48 mills. The increase represents an addition $2.11 in taxes on each $1,000 of value of a property.
The increase, and the district's $67 million budget, were approved by an 8-1 vote at the district's June 27 meeting, with school director David Donato dissenting.
According to the real estate tracking website Zillow, the median home value in McKeesport is $55,300, while the median home value in White Oak is about twice as high, at $104,500. The taxes on a home valued at $55,300 will increase $116.68, while the taxes on a home valued at $104,500 will increase $220.50.
According to the Allegheny County Treasurer's Office, 26 of the county's 43 school districts had tax rates above 20 mills last year, including East Allegheny, Elizabeth Forward, West Mifflin Area and West Jefferson Hills.
The highest millage --- 32.63 mills --- was levied in Wilkinsburg.
McKeesport Area administrators and school board members have said that the district's budget is under increased pressure from the need to pay $7 million to area charter schools, as well as the increased demand for mental-health services, special education and non-instructional items.
"We’re trying to balance a budget that has really seen its better days, and we’re doing our best to do that as responsibly as we possibly can," Superintendent Mark Holtzman Jr. said at the April school board meeting.
Eleven teaching positions are being eliminated for the 2018-19 school year, including an art teacher at Founders Hall Middle School; a math, Spanish and English teacher at the high school; two first-grade teachers, a third-grade teacher and a kindergarten teacher; and two traveling librarians who served the high school, Founders Hall and Twin Rivers and Francis McClure elementary schools.
Most of the teachers whose positions were eliminated are shifting to other jobs left vacant by retirements or resignations, district officials have said.
"It’s not fun, it’s very challenging and it’s not a situation that anybody at this table enjoys, but it’s one of those situations that unfortunately we have no control over," Holtzman said in April.
Originally published July 13, 2018.