WSSD Board Says Hello to $76 MM Budget;
Goodbye to 307 Years of Experience
By Katie Crawford
The 2016-2017 final General Fund Budget was passed by the Wallingford-Swarthmore School Board with eight votes in favor and one board member, Dr. Robert Reiger, abstaining. The total school district expense budget is $76,439,336. This budget will be met in part by a 3.4% increase in local property taxes, a reduction from the anticipated 3.9% increase proposed in January. The average taxpayer will see a yearly tax increase of $253. In addition, the district will be required to withdraw anywhere from $818,131 to $2,027,766 from the fund balance in order to meet this budget.
Given that the district’s expenditures continue to outpace revenue, business manager and future superintendent Dr. Lisa Palmer stressed that while the budget situation has improved since the projections in January (mostly due to less uncertainty at the state level and the sale of the Summit School), the district cannot continue on this path. Palmer again encouraged the district to begin to reimagine how it operates in order to get to a place where expenditures equal revenue while still maintaining high quality instruction.
Dr. Robert Reiger explained his abstention by stating that he cannot vote for a budget that proposes a 3.4% tax increase, believing that if the district continues to raise taxes in this manner, many families and seniors will no longer be able to afford to live in the district. Reiger praised Dr. Palmer and Dr. Pladus for their hard work on the budget and credited their efforts as the reason why he did not vote flatly “no” on the budget.
13 Recognized for Their Service
In addition to the final passage of the budget, the board recognized 13 very special “graduates” of the district. Ferg Abbott spoke individually about each of these retirees, noting that their collective service to the district equaled 307 years:
Holly Speckhals spent nine years in the district most recently as an executive assistant in the Operations Department, whose supervisor Jim Hardy described her as, “rock solid, impeccable, a pleasure to work with.”
Irene Buechler spent 19 years in the district, most recently as a 4th grade teacher at SRS. When interviewed for the position by then-principal Sandy Sparrow, Sparrow simply wrote, “Hire immediately” at the bottom of her interview form.
Mary Krauss spent 21 years in the district, most recently as a technology support specialist at SHMS, always going above and beyond as she completed 1,000 help desk tickets per year.
Ellen Valentine spent 23 years with the district, starting as a teacher’s aide, then going on to teach kindergarten, always showing nothing but the utmost respect for children.
Cathy Stambaugh spent 28 years as a math teacher at SHHS, holding leadership positions since 1991. When asked on her initial application if she had any coaching experience she stated, “math team.”
Susan Lancelotti spent her entire 37-year career at NPE. She remembered her first day of teaching thinking, “They’re going to pay me for this! This is great!”
Betsy Clark spent 38 years working in a variety of capacities in district administration offices. Ferg Abbott commented that Clark’s time and range of experiences in the district gave her more knowledge of staff members and their lives and families then he has or will ever have in his capacity as director of human resources.
Not present were Diane Eichler with 36 years, Chip Carroll with 14, Beth Lesky with 15, Tom Connelly with 17, John Lathbury with 24, and Mary Anne Schmucker with 26.
Dr. Pladus quoted from his favorite eight-track by The Beach Boys, wishing this group of retirees a particularly wonderful “Endless Summer.”
Congrats to Boys’ Lacrosse
Also noted by Dr. Pladus was the amazing run of the high school boys’ lacrosse team who made it all the way to the state semi finals before losing to eventual state champion Springfield (Delco) in a heartbreaker. Dr. Pladus was in attendance at the earlier 10-9 Haven victory over Upper Dublin, where he felt compelled to sit on the 50 yard line, having spent 10 years in the Upper Dublin school district.
Dr. Pladus’s last day with the district will be June 28.