Kutztown School board discusses reduction of Kutztown Elementary 2nd Grade Program

Kutztown School Board discussed the reduction of Kutztown Elementary’s second grade program April 22.

During the discussion portion of the meeting, the school board reviewed proposals for the 2014-15 budget. One proposal regarded Kutztown Elementary’s second grade being reduced from three classes to two, with similar class sizes to that of Greenwhich Elementary and help the district save on expenses, in addition to savings from retirements.

“The first two retirements we have every year, we use some of that money to account for the increases in pay due to horizontal movements and the salary grid for teachers,” said School Board President Carl Zeigler. “So we are taking $25,000 of that and taking that off. If we think about that [second grade] class going through the rest of their elementary tenure, the total savings we can gain from that is about $431,000.”

The idea of reducing down to two second grade classes at KES was met with concern and questions from board members, mostly regarding potential future funding issues.

“I’m concerned that we will be disrupting certain parts of the program,” said board member Alan Darion. “Let’s say we need that [second grade] teacher back later, that money suddenly isn’t in the budget anymore. That means something else will have to come out in order to fulfill that position. We need to look at how these expenses will affect us down the line.”

Darion argued that total equality between the two elementary schools may not necessarily be an urgent area of concern compared to other issues.

“It just doesn’t seem like a main priority to me,” said Darion. “Having a program that is financially stable that doesn’t need to be tweaked every couple of years, that is my concern.”

The Ready-to-Learn block grant was brought up as a factor in overall financial equation. Mainly, questions arose over how much funding will be provided to the district from the state in general.

“There is talk that perhaps [Governor Tom Corbett] might not have as much money for education as he thinks he has,” said Superintendent Kathy Metrick. “We have to include the money in our budget now so we can get the grant. We don’t know how much money that is right now, so the money put in is just an estimate.”

Being a discussion item only, there was no vote.

In other news regarding the budget, the board also discussed the sizes of the kindergarten classes, possible tax increases and the additions of a technical education position and IT director.

The Kutztown School Board will continue to discuss the proposed 2014-15 budget during committee sessions.