Daniel Boone School Board working to trim $3.3M budget deficit

The Daniel Boone Area School Board is scheduled to meet Wednesday night to begin reducing its 2018-19 budget deficit of $3.3 million.

Board members approved in January the Act 1 Budget Opt-Out Resolution for Fiscal Year 2018-19.

That means that the board cannot raise taxes above the district’s Act 1 index of 3.2 percent without voters’ approval.

The district’s proposed preliminary 2018-19 budget of $59,326,213 -- with real estate millage at its maximum amount of 31.1664 mills, per Act 1 — would result in a $3.3 million deficit.

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Daniel Boone’s current millage rate is 30.2 mills.

Property owners pay $3,020 for every $100,000 of assessed property value.

Amy Hicks, president of the Daniel Boone Education Association, said a member of the DBEA would attend each budget meeting to provide accurate budget figures.

High School Principal Preston McKnight said at the board’s March 12 Committee of the Whole meeting that some high school students plan to “walkout” for 17 minutes on Wednesday.

That is the national school walkout day devised to honor the 17 people killed Feb. 14 at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla.

“I told them to let their voice be heard,” said McKnight on March 12, adding, “They want us all to know they want to be kept safe,” and to remember the kids (victims, and the survivors).

Their words, he said, are, “We expect you to keep us safe -- not how to do it -- but do it.”

Academic programs will continue during the walkout.

Twenty-five teachers have volunteered to facilitate the event supervised by the school’s security guards.

District Superintendent James Harris confirmed that the lockdowns on Friday, March 9, at the Daniel Boone Middle School and the High School were practice drills.

The lockdowns were conducted in conjunction with drug searches of student lockers and common areas, but this time conducted by the Berks County Sheriff’s Department (in full gear) and accompanied by their detection dogs.

“Kids are used to a lock-in, not a lockdown,” said member Steven Miller, echoing the sentiments of many of his fellow board members that kids were scared, unsure if the lockdown was a drill.

Harris said he was prepared with a Connect Ed phone message that went out at about 11 a.m., 15 minutes after he returned from the high school.

“This was between me and the Sheriff’s Department,” said Harris, adding, “To me, it was a success, but I saw some gaps also, which are easily fixed.”

“No one else knew. I wanted to know how the principals would react, how long to find the principals, and see how fast could secure the building,” the superintendent said. “Fire drills are like a joke, and that’s not the way it really is. Lockdowns are different.”

“I decided to do a practice lockdown at 9:10 a.m. at the middle school,” Harris said. “While the dogs were searching, I was checking doors. No drugs were found at the middle school or high school.”

The high school lockdown began at about 10 a.m.

“I found some doors unlocked,” Harris said. “Some teachers forgot to check them. That is a risk. Some outside doors were not secured. The phones — do we answer or not answer them?”

He said there are suggestions to test with a pretend stranger.

“How fast can we get it locked down?” Harris said. “The high school did it very well and it was helpful for the Sheriff’s Department to walk the building and know it.”

School board member Aaron Durso said the lockdown drill should have also been communicated with the local law enforcement agencies.