I attended the Board of Supervisors meeting last night; Ray Clarke attended the school district meeting and has graciously provided his notes for use on Community Matters. The preliminary 2012-13 school district budget was approved with a $2.5 million budget gap — continuing to cut expenses or dipping into the fund balance? I know from attending the last Finance Committee meeting that the outsourcing of the custodial workers remains on the list as possible budget strategies.
In reading his notes, a couple of observations about the Facilities Committee are noteworthy. The District’s maintenance departments needs for storage facilities has been discussed for a number of years. There are preliminary plans for construction of a maintenance building on District-owned property on Old Lancaster Rd., down from the T/E Middle School. But according to Ray’s notes, it would seem that the Facilities Committee is now looking at other options, including non-District owned property. Maybe that option is for leasing facilities space rather than new construction – I hope the option is not suggesting that the District purchase additional property.
It is interesting to note that the Facilities Committee will revisit the IT plan at their next meeting – further discussion wireless in the school district. Maybe I am remembering incorrectly, but I thought at one point there was discussion of hiring an IT consultant to review the District’s current situation and to offer recommendations. I thought the consultant fee was in last year’s budget . . . perhaps I am not recalling this correctly.
Here are Ray’s notes – as always, I thank him for taking the time to send his commentary.
- The preliminary budget was approved 8 -1. Liz Mercogliano changed her position with no explanation. As approved, there is a $2.5 million deficit that the Board has to close either through expense cuts or fund balance usage. Also, as approved, there is no increase in teacher salaries (but the same benefits plan and that 47% increase in the pension contribution). When asked if changes to the benefit plan are on the table, the comment from Dr Brake was that they “could be”. Of course they are! Why not say so?
- Class room capacity was discussed in the committee reports. Computer labs are being repurposed at TEMS and Devon Elementary, but at the latter it seems that this will only buy one classroom and one year. There will be 7 or 8 sections of first graders there next year. The administration has been charged to study options for 2013/14; these could include re-districting. Devon has 550 students, Beaumont has 450. It wasn’t completely clear, but I thought I heard that the enrollment trends will require another 3.6 FTEs beyond the 444.4 budgeted for 2012/13.
- Important topics for the next Facilities Committee on Feb 17th at 2pm. First, the never-ending discussion of facilities for the maintenance department will continue, with a presentation of non-district owned options. Second, the IT strategy discussion has been resurrected, and we’ll hear a plan to make the schools wireless. Let’s hope for something that clearly promises improvement in educational quality and reductions in cost to justify investment of – dare I say it – some of that fat Fund Balance.
- President Karen Cruickshank thanked Mrs. Graham for a “wonderfully thorough” legislative report, which was mostly a lengthy advocacy for the community to lobby the state for increased funding in advance of the Corbett budget announcement on Feb 7th.