UCF Initiatives, school tax increases explained

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By JP Phillips, Staff Writer, The Times

Janet Schuster, retiring Patton Middle School teacher.

EAST MARLBOROUGH — The April 9th Unionville Chadds-Ford School Board work session included a presentation by the Chester County Intermediate Unit, several district proposals, and talk of the upcoming 2018-19 budget.  But first, the Administration took time to honor a long-time employee.

Patton Middle School teacher Janet Schuster is retiring after twenty-three years.  Besides supporting the school’s gifted student population and coaching the school’s cheerleading group, she has been instrumental in giving students many academic opportunities they may not otherwise have had.  Principal Steve Dissinger noted that Shuster coordinated and coached students for many competitions—Science Fairs, Forensics (Speech and Debate), Academic Quiz team, Reading Olympics, Geography Bee, Spelling Bee, and Knowledge Bowl.  She received a standing ovation from the Board and community attendees.

CCIU Executive Director Dr. Joe O’Brien and his team presented an overview of the myriad of services they provide to the twelve Chester County school districts.  Due to the extent of the information provided, this will be covered in a separate Times article later this week.

After a successful Chromebook rollout to all students in grades six through nine, Director of Curriculum and Instruction Tim Hoffman presented the Administration’s recommendation to extend the program through twelfth grade.  Hoffman said that utilizing these small laptops is a cost-effective way to incorporate valuable communication and educational resources both at home and in the classroom.  Since it is a Google product, it allows for easy student collaboration via Google Drive.  It also integrates nicely with PowerSchool (where students and parents can check on grades throughout each semester) and CANVAS (the school’s main way for teachers to communicate coursework and class updates).  And since many textbooks are becoming available on-line, students won’t always have to carry heavy textbooks in their backpacks.

Director of Business and Operations Bob Cochran explained how the additional Chromebooks would affect the budget with two options.  If the $20 per-student technology fee is continued, the net cost to the district is $262,900 (the calculation currently in the budget).  However, if the board adopts a $50 per-student fee with a $100 per-family maximum, net cost would drop to $196,220.

Cochran also gave all board members printed copies of the proposed general fund budget, which will be debated in earnest during the May 7th budget hearing.   The $87,182,311 budget, slightly down from what was presented in January, represents a 2.66% increase.  Because of the way state law dictates how the budget must be split between the two counties in the district, Chester county residents will see a .6% increase, while Delaware County will have a 6.69% increase (if the budget is adopted as-is).

The calculation is determined as follows:  The state separately calculates the total market value of the district’s Chester and Delaware county properties.  The district then takes that ratio and applies it to the budget balance needed to satisfy expenses after other revenue is considered.

The fact that total the district’s Delaware County property market values grew from 19.058% to 19.944% of the UCF totals caused their larger tax increase.  The market data used by the state is two years old.

Cochran explained that the taxing disparities between the two counties even out over time.  He showed a chart that tracked Delaware’s share of market value over the past twenty years, fluctuating from a low of 16% of the total to 20%.   He then showed a 10-year history of the millage increases by county.

“The change for Chester county in 10 years is a 2.1% average…versus a 1.81% in Delaware county over that same 10-year period,” Cochran explained.  “So although this year is high for Delaware county, when we look at it over a longer period of time, they are both within a reasonable pattern of each other.”

Director of Special Education and member of the Wellness Committee Dr. Leah Reider and Assistant Superintendent John Nolen presented the Say Something program.  This free program, developed by the Sandy Hook Promise, includes formal student, teacher and parent training on the warning signs that someone is in crisis and needs help.  Though the district already conducts training, this program also includes an anonymous tip line, where anyone can call day or night to report a situation that needs immediate attention.  Those tips will be forwarded by the third-party call center to the district and possibly law enforcement for immediate action.  Law enforcement would only be notified by the call center if it is determined that the threat is severe and imminent.

Lastly, board member Elise Anderson and the Wellness Committee would like to invite everyone to the book “IGen” community discussion with the author on Thursday evening at 7 PM.  The book discusses the effects of electronic devices in our student’s lives.  You can read more details including summaries of the book chapters here.

Next up: Board Meeting April 16th at 7:30 in the district office.  It will be broadcasted live on the UCFSD web site.

All board meetings are open to the public.  They are broadcasted live (and archived) on the UCFSD web site.

Board documents related to the work session:  http://www.boarddocs.com/pa/uncf/Board.nsf/public

 

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