Lazy Daze of Summer: July’s Work Session Meeting

Summer DazeWho, in their right mind, wants to spend the summer thinking about school budgets, academic performance, contracts, transparency, or taxes? Everyone wants to have some break, and relax with the satisfaction this year’s property tax increase was averted. Unfortunately, the business of public schools does not end while students and teachers are on vacation. Someone needs to mind the store.

At this month’s Octorara Area School Board Work Session, we received an update on the school budget. As some may know, districts are required to have a budget by June, with or without knowing with certainty the contribution from Harrisburg.

If you have been following this blog, you know that Governor Corbett recently signed a bill to improve Special Education funding, and Governor Corbett’s budget includes a record $11.63 Billion in state education funding. Daniel Carsley (Business Manager) updated us on what that means for Octorara. The district will receive over $19,000 additional for basic education, and over $6,000 for Title I. What does that translate to… roughly an extra $10 per student overall?

The presentation of the Agenda Items for the July 15th Regular Monthly Meeting was generally without real discussion except for the very first item, the approval of the Transportation Contract with Althouse Transportation. It is a 5 year contract that is stated to save the district through route consolidation. Daniel Carsley noted that there was some language changed and added by the Solicitor.

Shawna Johnson had a question about a specific line item in the new contract (content undisclosed), and if it was something added by the Solicitor. Daniel Carsley was not sure and would get the answer. Johnson stated she would have additional questions depending on the reply.

Samuel Ganow wanted it noted that this was the first time the Negotiating Committee had dealt with this contract in quite a while.

The remaining 11 items had no discussion, with the exception of brief comments on two items. Lisa Bowman (regarding item C) wanted to know what the actual change was in the rate changed by Sports Care LLC. Samuel Ganow (regarding item D) noted that “Shawna and Dan” handled the agreement with ServiceMaster.

The Facility Committee Report was given by Nelson Stoltzfus, who is always thorough. I’m sure I missed some items discussed, but here is the run down:

  • The Playground equipment is done,
  • The High School roof repairs have been delayed by weather,
  • The water treatment plant needs repairs and they are investigating costs,
  • A lighting-rail in the auditorium needs replaced or repaired because of a tripping hazard,
  • A range hood in a kitchen needs attention,
  • Safety and Security is an ongoing discussion, and
  • In field development, footers will be done in 7-10 days and all should be ready for the start of school.

The last few minutes included a shoutout from the audience, by former board member Ken Knickerbocker, asking how to extend the meeting. After some chuckles, Samuel Ganow inquired why the board does not consolidate the July meetings into a single meeting, stating that many other boards actually skip July. The meeting was adjourned in almost exactly 15 minutes.

Dr Newcome, Sheri Melton, and Robert Hume were absent from the meeting.


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