Daniel Boone school year extended to June 13

The Daniel Boone School District can’t argue with Mother Nature, and nor can it argue with the state: students in Pennsylvania are required to attend 180 days of school in order to receive full credit and graduate.

Mother Nature has made that task especially difficult this year for many Berks County school districts.

Daniel Boone School District Acting Superintendent Dr. Patricia Sanker said Feb. 10 that the district has had six snow days.

She said the district would lose $3,238.21 subsidy amount for each day short of the required 180 days.

By Feb. 14, the district had used an additional two days, with the calendar indicating another six weeks of winter

The board approved Feb. 10 to make-up the first six days with Feb. 17, April 14 , 15, and 16, as well as June 6 and 9.

It first approved to extend the school year from Friday, June 6 to Friday, June 13, which provides the district with the additional snow make-up days.

That vote also allowed the district to keep three holiday days at Easter -- unless additional days are needed.

Sanker’s original proposal to the school board was to take Thursday and Monday, April 17 and 21, to not extend the school year, and also require the seniors to attend a half day on Friday, April 18, without teachers.

She cited scheduled vacations, military obligations, and students who would start college early, for not wanting to extend the school year.

“Senior class advisors are okay with April 18 being a half day,” said Sanker, adding, ““I’m trying to be resourceful -- to bring senior in on a half day without teachers. School code prohibits Saturdays.”

“Why are we locking ourselves into June 6 when there’s a big snow storm this week?” asked member Suzanne Dungan.

Sanker and Assistant Superintendent Marybeth Torchia said they both prefer to have educational time teaching in March and April when it isn’t so nice to be outside, instead of in June.

The end of the board’s more than four-hour-long meetings concluded with a vote to hold the June 13 graduation at the High School Stadium, or inside during inclement weather.

The board will discuss in future meetings the two failing boilers at Birdsboro Elementary Center (BEC), as well as the possibility of closing that school.

Sanker clarified that the cost of a new boiler is estimated at $200,000, with the cost for two new boilers to not exceed $500,000, and not the previously discussed $1 to $2 million.

Dungan explained that the $2 million estimate is to replace BEC’s heating system, all pipes, as well as the boilers, if the board does not close BEC.

Board members said that although one of the boilers may fail, the other is anticipated to last through this winter.

Interim Business Manager Kim Seldomridge said both boilers must be replaced this summer and the rest of the heating system replaced within the next five years.

Due to declining student enrollment, Seldomridge said he has “estimated that 2016-17 is definitely a year when a building could be closed.”

Board President Richard Martino, who indicated at the board’s Dec. 2 reorganization meeting that the board hadn’t properly voted last fall to move the district’s administrative offices to the former Amity Primary Center, included a motion on the Feb. 10 agenda to move the offices to the High School in Birdsboro.

Martino said it has not been a secret that he wants the offices at the High School.

“District staff have never satisfactorily looked at moving to the High School and have spent $85,000 a year for seven years at the Matthew Brooke Building,” said Martino.

Members Andre Basile, Tamara Twardowski, and previous members Monica Hamill, and Robert D. McLaughlin (who resigned Jan. 27) stated in December and January that the board did have a majority vote for the APC relocation.

They also said that further delaying the move from the Matthew Brooke Building could result in complications and an additional one-year rent of $85,000.

“Four times now we’ve told the administration to go left -- to APC,” said Basile, adding that he didn’t want to vote without a master plan of costs and security issues.

Basile said district offices in a High School (which can be a high-targeted area for violence) would not allow the district a separate command center.

“Truckloads of stuff have been taken to APC,” said Sanker, adding, “We’re a month into this and now you want to change it.”

Board Vice President Connor Kurtz asked the board to “please” vote on the motion, in order to allow the administration to develop a model (master plan) for the High School relocation.

The relocation to the High School was approved by a 5-4 vote.

It was opposed by Basile, Twardowski, and members Brian D. Doty and David Rathgeb.