Gone In 30 Minutes: The June 17th Board Meeting

budgetMany taxpayers, trying to recover for the economic devastation of the last few years, are letting out a collective sigh of relief this morning. Yesterday, the Octorara Area School District Board of Directors voted unanimously to adopt the 2013-14 General Fund Budget in the amount of $47,492,791, and a resolution establishing  a real estate millage rate of 36.66 mills (zero increase) in Chester County and 27.71 mills (an increase of 22 basis points) in Lancaster County.

Unfortunately, there are already attempts from apologists to devalue and delegitimize the efforts of citizens to achieve this zero increase. Everyone knows Mr Hume and Mr Lapp have always been vocal about over-taxing, but when has the board overall avoided a tax increase at anytime in recent history? In fact in 2011-12, thanks to reorganization due to a decrease in enrollment, the district’s actual year-over-year budget decreased. What did they do? In the one year they could legitimately talk about truly cutting spending, they still increased taxes.

The 2013-14 budget is an increase in spending of over $828,000 with an over $1 Million shortfall. For Octorara to avoid an estimated budget of $48.7 Million in 2014-15, with an estimated tax rate of 38.2 mills, you must begin to make your voices heard starting this July. We must make it known, the distinct needs control labor costs by controlling salaries, not just by cutting teachers. We must make it known, enough is enough with the unnecessary space. Octorara over-built, and there needs to be a plan for consolidation and reorganization. School consolidation allows for the best use of resources by reducing operating expenses and maintenance costs, providing those dollars to support instruction.

Newcome’s Resignation & Rehire

As reported on the Parkesburg Gazette last week, the Board Directors had quietly made nonpubic policy decisions, recommendations, and votes which led to a decision to engage in 9 months of negotiations to extent Dr Newcome’s contract from June 2015 to June 2018. The process required Dr. Newcome’s resignation effective June 30, 2013, and then the Board Director’s approval of a new five year contract effective July 1, 2013. Intentionally kept out of public thought until the last possible minute, both agenda items passed unanimously without public discussion or debate from board members.

Gone In 30 Minutes

Sunshine LawThat is how long the meeting took. It started at 7:30pm, and I was home drinking coffee by 8:10. I bring this up because last night, more than any other meeting, I noticed a true lack of public discussion or debate, even besides Dr Newcome’s contract extension. For example, Item S the board voted to approve Policy 123.2 “Athletic Academic Eligibility”, first reading… approved unanimously without discussion or debate, and without even a reading of the policy.

Policy 123.2 “Athletic Academic Eligibility” was again mentioned during the Policy Committee Report… a report in which all that was stated was one sentence, that there were many changes to 123.2. It had me wondering why the various committee reports, and their meeting minutes, are not publicly available documents, along with the various attachments frequently mentioned?

Common Core

Of note at this very short meeting, was Mr Lapp speaking out in favor of education reform and against Common Core. The Common Core State Standards Initiative seeks to bring state curricula into alignment with each other by following the principles of standards-based education reform. The initiative is sponsored by the National Governors Association and the Council of Chief State School Officers.

Common Core is intended to provide a consistent, clear understanding of what students are expected to learn, so teachers and parents know what they need to do to help them. The standards are described as robust and relevant to the real world, reflecting the knowledge and skills that our young people need for success in college and careers. Sounds reasonable, doesn’t it?

The program has drawn criticism from Liberals, Libertarians, and Conservatives. Several Republican governors have described the program as a federal “top-down” takeover of state and local education systems. Some argue the focus on national standards will do little to fix deeply ingrained problems and incentive structures within the education system, and there is research that calls into question whether the standards would have a significant effect. The list of criticisms seems endless. Mr. Lapp calls it the Dumbing Down of America, and the idea that the program emphasizes rote learning over critical thinking skills is hard to argue against.


8 thoughts on “Gone In 30 Minutes: The June 17th Board Meeting

  1. USA :: Education :: Print this Article
    06-06-2013 3:44 pm – Jeffrey Kibbler – The Brenner Brief
    The UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) has a program called “Education for All” that includes the same people and same ideas as the U.S. Education Department’s Common Core. The Global Fund for Education was formulated by the UN, “agreed to” by Barack Obama, funded by Bill Gates, and Common Core was imposed on the American people through Department of Education (DOE) funding schemes.

    Agenda 21, also known as “sustainable development,” is the action plan to inventory and control all land, all water, all minerals, all plants, all animals, all construction, all means of production, all information, all energy, and all human beings in the world. This plan was birthed at the 1992 United Nations Rio Earth Summit, officially known as the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED). President George HW Bush signed the United States (US) onto this plan by along with 178 other world leaders. Read all of The Brenner Brief‘s coverage of Agenda 21 here.
    – See more at: http://www.libertynewsonline.com/article_301_33400.php#sthash.5kwrEACg.dpuf

      • Pennsylvania adopted Common Core Standards in 2010. The state crafted a set of standards for English Language Arts and Mathematics to mirror Common Core, but reflect the organization and design of the Pennsylvania’s Academic Standards.

  2. Tim, I appreciate your continued attempt to put the school board’s feet to the fire. The fact that other blog’s continue to refer to you and try to discredit you only proves that you’re doing something right. Your ability to ignore the childlike attacks show people like me that you’re willing to forgo some uncalled for abuse to get your message through. If it were me, I don’t think I would’ve been able to stop myself from resorting to old school ways of teaching people the meaning of respect. Again, thank you for your time and your efforts. They are definitely not going unnoticed.

    • Thank you!!

      Every now and then, I feel the need to fire back, but I still try to have a measured response. Not that I don’t get angry. You should read the blogs that never get posted. 😉

      It all goes back to a statement a made when I officially announced my candidacy. I said, “My candidacy, and the policies I will endorse, are a reflection of my respect for the citizens of this area. I believe there needs to be greater transparency and accountability on matters including budget adoption, contracts, curriculum adoption, and fiscal planning and oversight. I will promote and work for greater responsiveness, citizen inclusion, transparency and fiscal responsibility.”

      I have to keep my arguments based on hard facts and data, not emotion. “Democracy demands an educated and informed electorate,” is a Jeffersonian principle I hold dear. Our system works best when citizens are well informed, and can base decisions on facts and data rather than anecdotes and hearsay.

  3. Pingback: Board Votes to Increase Property Tax Rate to Limit | Timothy Alexander

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