Tuesday night marked TE School District’s first Finance Committee meeting of the new school year. Although I was unable to attend the meeting, my friend Ray Clarke did attend the meeting and shared the following notes from the meeting. Thanks Ray!
The TESD Finance Committee opened the 2015/16 season with a relaxed session on Tuesday night. The meeting was attended by candidates Berger, Colligan, Kling, Hotinski and Kantorczyk. A few highlights from my perspective:
– Finance committee approval of the Preliminary Budget is due in just three months. After some discussion about teeing up review of opportunities in the district’s self insurance of its health plan and potentially of some special education risks, Doug Carlson requested that the Administration present the Committee with full district budget scenarios that start with expenses managed to revenues with no tax increase. Hopefully we’ll get more than the standard operating procedure showing a $6 million deficit.
– By the way, somehow in an environment of last 12 months US inflation of 0.2%, the Act 1 index is 2.4%. Half of the index is the increase in the Federal school employment cost index, showing how contract awards get baked into future taxes.
– August YTD expenses/encumbrances are up across the board, total up 12% versus last year, driven by special ed instruction up 32% (over $3 million) YTD. I don’t recall the explanation for this but I didn’t hear any immediate concern that the overall 5% budgeted expense increase would be exceeded. One number that does stand out for the full year budget is the $770,799 (11%) increase in the Administration budget.
– For those of use that liked to do a quick scan of the month’s check register from high to low, the task has been made harder by a switch to reporting the check register by pay period in alphabetical order. This seems arbitrary; when asked why, no reason was provided.
– The actual results for last year are still months away, awaiting the external audit. The Business Office is working through the encumbrances and deciding what should be released; an interesting exercise, no doubt.
Department of Unintended Consequences
– Restricting part-time employees to 27.5 hours has caused a significant shortfall in the number of teachers/aides available to support the after-school homework clubs, and this is becoming a real problem with the clubs usually starting up in October. Part of the program is funded by FLITE, which is not able to contract with employees of our out-sourcing company, CCRES. The District is looking to advertise specifically to hire homework club leader and assistant positions at $28 and $17/hour, which FLITE would apparently be able to continue to fund.
– Kris Graham brought up the need to fully air condition all of the elementary and middle school buildings in the light of the current heat wave. She did not offer a cost estimate for this.
Residents also learned on Tuesday that the Tredyffrin supervisors voted to declare the township a state of emergency for the upcoming Pope’s visit, citing expected traffic and congestion. According to Police Supt. Giamio, there will be over 16,000 train riders during the pope’s visit and that the highest number are expected to use the Paoli station! Yikes! As an aside, I am glad about my decision to move the annual historic house tour up a week to Saturday, Sept. 19 (www.tredyffrinhistory.org) to accommodate the Pope’s visit.
We should plan around the Pope’s visit as if the weather people were predicting a blizzard — get to the grocery store and don’t forget your medication before the storm hits (or rather, the Pope lands).