CATAWISSA R.R. - Southern Columbia Area School Board member Charlie Porter called the last negotiation session between the board and district teachers "disappointing."

"We had tried very hard to integrate health care into the negotiations, in order to get some savings, but that window is closed," Porter told the board Monday night.

What he meant is that the deadline has passed for the district to change its current health care plan with Highmark Blue Shield. The district was hoping to give teachers the option to pick plans with a higher deductible at a lower health care cost, allowing the board to give salary increases.

"Salary increases are still at about three percent a year, but what really put their proposal out of the park was that after the fourth year of the contract, the teachers would pay nothing for their health insurance, that it would be fully funded by the district," Porter reported. "That's not feasible."

Porter did not give a new date for negotiations in his report.

On Monday, the board unanimously approved its 2014-15 budget and related items. The budget stands at $18,787,210 for the coming school year. Property tax rates will be 39.68 mills for Columbia County residents and 53.02 mills for Northumberland County property owners. Voting for the budget were members Michael Yeager, Porter, Thomas Reich, Charlene Cove, John Yocum and Timothy Vought. Members Joe Klebon and Gail Zambor Schuerch were absent.

The SCA board also approved the homestead/farmstead exclusion real estate value reduction for 2014. According to calculations made by the district, those approved for the reduction in Columbia County will see their property value reduced by $2,223 while those in Northumberland County will see a $1,662 reduction.

The reduction means a property tax reduction of $87.30 in Columbia County and $84.83 in Northumberland County.

In other business:

- Crews from McClure Co. are currently working on the school buildings as part of a $4.6 million performance based energy agreement to help save on energy costs with more energy-efficient measures. The district began taking steps to help pay for the work by approving the first payment of $930,270 to McClure upon loan closing, and a $400,000 equity contribution toward the cost of the project, dropping the loan amount to $4.2 million.

- PSBA Insurance Trust was named the district's workers compensation insurance provider for the coming school year at a cost of $65,258, and Wright Specialty Insurance/Catlin Insurance as the district's liability, property, automobile and umbrella insurance provider at $96,790.

- School breakfast and lunch prices were approved for the 2014-15 school year with only breakfast getting an increase from $1.25 to $1.50. Prices for lunch will remain the same - $2.15 for students in grades kindergarten through fourth, $2.40 for grades 5 through 12 and $3.40 for adults.

- The board also approved two agreements, the first being an agreement with American Capital Leasing for technology equipment in the amount of $206,190.84, and a cooperative agreement with the Danville Area School District for competitive cheerleading. Southern will be the host district and all participants will be required to pay-the-participate fee.

- Southern Columbia opened bids for a wheelchair mini-school bus, awarding the bid to M.A. Brightbill Body Works, Inc. Lebanon, for a 2012 Blue Bird 18-passenger wheelchair bus with 23,412 miles on it for $49,825.