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Mars Area welcomes board member, wishes farewell to another

ADAMS TWP — Mars Area School Board welcomed one new member at its reorganization meeting Tuesday, Dec. 5, before wishing a fond farewell to another.

Following the November general election, Aaron Rose has filled an open four-year seat for the district.

“It feels great to be here,” he said. “It’s cliché, but it feels great to be a part of a seasoned board.”

Rose was elected alongside four incumbent candidates who formally reclaimed their seats Tuesday, including president John Kennedy, vice president Sallie Wick, Anthony De Pretis and Kevin Hagen.

“My hope is to learn the system, so to speak, as quickly as I can,” Rose said. “And to make a positive difference.”

Following the elected members’ oath of office, though, board member Nicole Thurner announced her resignation from the board.

“It’s bittersweet that I have to announce: My last meeting will be Jan. 9,” she said. “My fiancé and I found a property outside of the district.”

The two-year board member called the property her and her fiance’s “dream home,” with its location disqualifying her from a seat in the district.

“It’s just been a really great experience,” she said. “I’m just honored to have served the Mars community.”

The board will be seeking a qualified replacement for Thurner’s seat, with interested applicants being asked to submit a letter of interest by Dec. 20 at 4 p.m.

A formal date to interview the applicants was additionally set for Jan. 3 at 6 p.m.

Real estate tax limited

The board also approved limiting the real estate tax increase, “if any,” for the 2024-25 school year to no more than 5.3%.

Secretary Debbie Brandstetter said it was unlikely the district would require any increase.

According to superintendent Mark Gross, the limit is a “cap” set by the state.

“The state gives us a number and says if we would go over that, that would require a referendum where the taxpayers have to vote on it,” he said. “Our district is not looking to go over their maximum.”

Gross emphasized that the approval did not “set” any tax increase.

“We’re capping it,” he said. “We’re saying it won’t go over that.”

This story was updated at 9:23 a.m., Wednesday, Dec. 6, to reflect the members’ four-year terms. A previous version of this story said the elected members’ terms would run for five years.

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