The Octorara Area School District Board of Directors held their monthly Work Session Meeting, and Facilities Committee Meeting, on August 10, 2015. Eight Board Members were in attendance at the Work Session. Shawna Johnson was absent.
During the Work Session, the Board was presented the Agenda Items to be voted on at the Regular Meeting on August 17th. Additionally, the Board received a presentation from the Field Development Task Force, and unexpectedly voted on two items other items.
Field Development Task Force
Dr Thomas Stickley, DPM, and Charlie Koennecker gave a presentation to the Board about why they believed renovation of the Track was essential, and cost scenarios with a list of several options. I can’t speak for the other Board Members, but for myself, the presentation left several questions I was looking for unanswered. Most of the very specific information revolved around cost, which ranges between $389K to $501K.
I questioned the Field Development Task Force representatives, “What percentage of the cost where they looking to split with the District?” It was a question they were unwilling to directly answer, but instead wanted to discuss the issue in terms of District obligation and responsibility.
Other Board Members also weighed in on the financial realities of the District. The District is on the path to hit a Budget wall in 3 years, and then negative Reserve in 4 years. The remaining $1.7 Million in the Capital Fund will also be depleted in 4 years, possibly sooner once the District’s Ten Year Facilities Plan is complete, and we have no realistic way to replace the money once spent.
A rephrased version of the question came for Hank Oleyniczak who wanted to know, How much money from the District means this is not worth talking about? If the District can only, at the very best, afford to put $100,000 toward the project, and the Task Force can only realistically raise $40,000 – $60,000 per year, then maybe discussion of the Track renovation needs to be placed on hold until the financial winds change.
Fireworks over Music teaching position
Some may recall last month an action to hire a new music teacher, replacing one retiring, was tabled. This week, Dr Newcome provided information requested about the impact of losing the position. That memo described a system relying on no less than five full-time Music teachers, and losing one would cause major issues.
In discussion of the memo, Board President Lisa Bowman and Vice-President Brian Norris used apocalyptic terms to describe the consequences, stating that failing to hire this one teaching position would cause a systemic failure within the Music Department, and irreparable harm to students for years to come.
Sam Ganow challenged not only the idea not hiring this one teacher would have such a long-term negative impact, but directly challenged the contents of Dr Newcome’s memo, describing it as “manufactured.” He also challenged Board leadership regarding the way they have conducted themselves with the issue’s discussion, the presented information, and procedures of the vote. Continue reading