By Katie Crawford
The school board approved two significant items at its January 19 meeting. The agreement of sale for the Summit School to the Nether Providence Township for a sale price of $925,000 was approved by eight board members voting yes and one, Ms. Chapin Cimino, abstaining.
Nate Much, president of the Nether Providence Board of Commissioners, thanked the board during audience recognition for its help in making this sale possible. He acknowledged the many hours of hard work and discussions which finally led to this agreement of sale. He looked forward to continuing the tradition of community use at the site, describing the possible township events and gatherings that the acquisition of this structure and open space will allow.
At the conclusion of the meeting, Alfred Hurd from the Stage One Performing Arts Complex also thanked the board and praised the district’s approval of the sale as “a major contribution to the quality of life here in Delaware County.” He cited the shortage of rehearsal spaces in our area and noted that even Philly Fringe groups travel to Stage One. In its five years of operation, Stage One has served 100 groups whose members Hurd estimates to be in the thousands, producing audiences in the tens of thousands who spend millions of dollars locally. He also noted that many graduates of the district’s schools return to find performance opportunities at Stage One.
Preliminary Budget Approved
In addition to the approval of the agreement of sale, the board approved the preliminary school board budget of $77,611,428. Eight board members voted yes; Dr. Robert Reiger voted no. Reiger explained to the board that he could not vote in approval of this budget given the proposed 3.9 percent tax increase with no significant budget reductions. He gave the example that the parents of a kindergartner paying $15,000 in taxes now would end up paying $30,000 in taxes by the time of graduation, if the district continues tax increases at this rate. Board president Dr. Richard Sonntag pointed out that changing circumstances require an individual budget each year, and thus a tax increase this year could not be projected onto the years to come.
Applying for Act 1 Exceptions
The board also authorized the administration to apply to the Pennsylvania Department of Education for the Act 1 exceptions allowing the district to tax at a higher rate in order to meet budget needs. In its application to the state, the district specifically cites the increase in special education expenditures and the state mandated contributions to the retirement fund as the allowable exceptions. District business manager Dr. Lisa Palmer reiterated the difficulty of presenting a budget, given that there is still not a 2015-2016 budget from the state. She also emphasized again that this budget may look very differently once the district receives more information about state funding.
January is School Director Recognition month. State representative Leanne Krueger-Braneky was on hand to read a resolution and to present board members with certificates. She also spoke with the board members to acknowledge the difficulty of their situation, given the state requirement to have a preliminary school district 2016-2017 budget approved by January 27, while the state has failed to pass its own budget. Krueger-Braneky assured the board that she is working with Gov. Wolf to deliver a sound budget.
The focus topic of the board meeting was the Wallingford Elementary School update, presented by principal Josh Peterkin. Peterkin described the guiding Olympic theme for the WES school year, which has each homeroom exploring a different country and culture represented at the Olympics. As part of this study, students have participated in the creation of school-wide, classroom, and personal learning goals. WES students Jason Curtis and David Osborne attended the meeting with their teacher Kevin Stahler to read the board a report about their personal goals, such as staying on task and improving their writing skills. Board member Dr. Allison Karpyn, a WES parent, thanked Mr. Peterkin for his kindness and its tremendous impact on the WES students and community.