The Daniel Boone School Board voted 6-2 Monday night to proceed with the process of curtailing 14 district programs as one of several “levers” to reduce the $4.9 million 2013-14 budget deficit.
Board members will vote Feb. 25 on the resolution to submit the 14 curtailments to the state Department of Education.
If approved, the programs are not curtailed until the board approves the district’s final budget at the end of June.
Member Robert D. McLaughlin was absent from the meeting, and members Kevin F. McCullough and Connor J. Kurtz opposed the motion to prepare the curtailment resolution.
Superintendent Dr. Gary L. Otto said the district doesn’t have a statutory requirement to provide the following, all of which could be curtailed in order to furlough the staff connected with the programs.
The list includes the elimination of kindergarten, basic skills programs, elementary band and eliminating the Amity Primary Center (APC) elementary assistant principal if that school is closed beginning with 2013-14.
Programs slated for reduction, instead of elimination, are elementary general classroom teachers, Middle School English, math, science, and social studies teachers (by eliminating one of three teams), High School science, business education and physical education teachers, reducing the elementary library program and school psychologist.
Kindergarten registration will proceed as normal beginning on March 4, although the program may be eliminated in the final budget that must be approved by June 30.
The board’s vote was split and the motion defeated to take kindergarten off of the curtailment table.
Member Walter P. Sheehan said prior to the vote that there is a “line of sight” that the estimated $436,000 cost to provide kindergarten would come from the estimated $600,000 savings by closing APC and consolidating teachers.
Board members cannot vote to close APC until May 6, and although they agreed that kindergarten registration is the first time-sensitive curtailment issue, they disagreed that it is any more important than the other curtailments.
“I am not willing to take items off the table one at a time,” said board President Andrew Basile.
“Music, sports and kindergarten should never be on the table,” said resident Joseph Koury, adding, “everything else should be completely vetted. There would be a big ripple effect to eliminating those.”
The board voted at the beginning of the meeting to approve the preliminary 2013-14 balanced budget with the maximum tax increase allowed of 1.26 mills, use of $1.4 million from the fund balance, a $2.6 million expenditure reduction by eliminating kindergarten and all extracurricular activities including sports and marching band, eliminating two school buses and furloughing 40 professional staff (28 full time).
A budget workshop has been scheduled for Feb. 27 at 7:30 pm, in the auditorium of the Daniel Boone Middle School, Weavertown Road, Amityville.
Otto and Business Manager Danielle Penza said they are “comfortable” including in the budget the additional $217,000 state basic education funding increase.
Basile said district officials will compile cost savings estimates of increasing high school students’ parking fee amounts, possible refinancing or selling the Transition House in Birdsboro, re-examining fund balance projections, library program alterations or elimination, reducing the information technology budget, increasing game, student play ticket prices, as well as physical fees, to look at the numbers regarding alternative scheduling, consolidating district resources, additional transportation changes, and re-examining the district’s substitute teacher reductions, which are currently slated at $144,000.
The district will also investigate an issue raised by Shane Kochel, Union Township.
Kochel asked if curtailing kindergarten would result in the district receiving less state funding due to an enrollment decrease of approximately 226 kindergarten students.
Douglassville resident Richard Martino suggested that the board examine and consider eliminating administrative positions that aren’t needed eight hours a day.
“The Pottstown School District only provides transportation to elementary students,” said resident Laura Reno, adding that middle and high school students must purchase bus tickets.
“We’re looking for suggestions and ideas, not for every person to come up and criticize all the ideas,” said Basile at the end of the four-hour-long meeting and after some residents voiced concerns on many of the board’s cost-saving solutions.
He and fellow board members said throughout the meeting that “everything is important to us” and in the end, he said, the board’s choices will come down to, “What is the least desirable choice, and let’s go with the other one.”