Gov. Tom Wolf’s budget proposal… probably not a reality

The Octorara Area School District Board of Directors held their monthly Work Session Meeting, and Facilities Committee Meeting, on March 9, 2015. Eight Board Members were in attendance at the Work Session; Sheri Melton was absent.

During the Work Session, the Board was presented the Agenda Items to be voted on at the Regular Meeting on March 16th. There were no Visitor Comments, nor Informational Items.

Pennsylvania Education FundingUnder the Budget Update Presentation, Dr Newcome informed Board Members that Gov. Tom Wolf’s budget proposal adds $1 Billion to education, and that would translate to approximately $1 Million for Octorara, if passed. However, State Republicans have put out a statement that School Districts should not spend this money just yet.

Those that have been following State politics have probably read the Governor’s budget proposal described as everything from ambitious to disastrous. It includes such things as an increase to “production taxes” on Pennsylvania’s Natural Gas industry, and other stealth taxes, which some believe will directly undermine Pennsylvania’s economy.

10 Year Capital Plan

Jeff Curtis, Business Manager, provided the Facilities Committee with a very rough draft of a 10 Year Capital Plan. When complete, it will be the most comprehensive document I have seen, that combines both projected Capital Projects with Capital Funding.

The document is currently lacking a very long list of items that Mr Curtis requires 3rd Party assistance in creating projected costs and dates. He believes that once complete, the Plan will show “[the District] running out of money rather quickly.”

Additionally, Mr Curtis explained to the Committee that the District cannot issue new bonds until 2019, without increasing the Debt Service. Currently, the District is paying around $6 Million a year on debt, and that amount stretches out for many, many years to come.

Continued Track & Field Discussions

The Facilities Committee again discussed numbers for renovating the Track. These numbers are roughly a year old.

  • Mill and Repave the Track alone would cost roughly $42,000
  • Work in front of the bleachers would cost around $10,000
  • A Complete Project, one that would remove the slag fill from under the Track, would cost $140,000
  • No matter which choice, the renovated Track would need to be rubberized, at a cost of $200,000.
  • If the District’s portion of funding exceeds $19,500 then the project would have to be put out for bid, and Prevailing Wage would become a cost factor.

The life of a renovated Track (and I presume we mean the life for competition purposes) is between 10 and 15 years. If the complete renovation is done now, then in the future what would need to be done is to Mill & Repave, and then rubberize again ($242,000 at today’s cost).

The only really new bit of information was finding out that a Cider Track would (1) completely resolve the issue of buckling, without having to remove the slag, because gases would be able to vent and not become trapped, and (2) Cider Tracks are acceptable for competition.

The arguments presented to the Committee, against the use of a Cinder Track, was that Cinder Tracks have ongoing maintenance costs for re-leveling and lining. However, there was no comparisons for the total cost of using a paved, rubberized track versus a cinder track. I personally have a hard time believing that over 10-15 years, the cost of a Cinder Track would meet or exceed the approximately $350,000 cost of a completely renovated paved & rubberized track.

How To Succeed In Business Without Really Trying

This past weekend, the Octorara Performing Arts Department performed their production of How To Succeed In Business Without Really Trying. While I did not attend, I had heard nothing but positive feedback. However, Board Member Leon Lapp spoke of his disappointment in the choice to do a performance that included “bad language” and “sexual themes.” At least two other Board Members seemed to have concerns after being made aware of the content from Mr. Lapp’s comments.

However, discussion revealed that the performance was advertised as having a rating of PG, which implies that there could be some profanity, some violence, and generally that some material may not be suitable for small children. Mr Lapp’s concerns seems to revolve around the use of the words “goddamn” and “hell,” in addition to some mild sexual innuendo.

I can’t really say I understand Mr Lapp’s point of view, on any level. Using his standard, the school would not even be able to perform Shakespeare.

Father/Daughter Dance

Back on February 20th, I attended the K-6 Father/Daughter Dance at the PLC. The event was sponsored by the Octorara K-6 PTO. It was a great event with a very good turnout. I would like to thank all the volunteers that made the dance possible.

Election Update

As you all should know, this is a local election year with many School District and Municiple positions on the ballot. Today is the last day to circulate and file nominating petitions, used by political party candidates. Tomorrow is the first day to circulate and file nominating papers, used by independent and political party designation candidates. I will post the May Primary candidate list, for the Octorara School District and Borough of Parkesburg, when it becomes available.

2 thoughts on “Gov. Tom Wolf’s budget proposal… probably not a reality

  1. Board members complaining about the students is the most absurd thing I have ever heard of. I hope they have their act together when they try to raise the taxes again because of their poor decisions on unnecessary spending. Good work to all the students who performed!

    • I don’t think Mr Lapp was complaining about the students. One of his own was actually in the presentation. His complaint seemed directed at the Octorara Performing Arts Department and their choice of production.

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