CASD eyes 2.1% tax hike, deal with CCIU for Gordon

Proposed increase in line with Act 1 limits

By Lauren Parker- Gill, News Editor, The Times


Editor’s Note: Due to subsequent information, the tax increase rate, which was shown as 3.1% in some preliminary materials, was changed in the story to reflect the more accurate 2.1%. We apologize for the confusion.

CALN – As a final proposed budget was approved to be displayed and advertised to the public, the Coatesville Area School District Board of Education made plans for Gordon Elementary with the Chester County Intermediate Unit.

During Tuesday’s work session, the board of directors discussed leasing the Gordon Elementary Building to the Chester County Intermediate Unit for its Head Start preschool program.

Moving into the Gordon building will enable the CCIU to service up to 500 students in the CASD, compared to 200 currently. The CCIU plans to provide a full day of programming for special education and underprivileged students, ages three to five. In addition, students will be served breakfast and lunch and before and after school care will also be offered.

This will be of no cost to the district, said superintendent, Dr. Cathy Taschner, as she explained that the CCIU will be responsible for all renovations, maintenance and single fix repairs, up to $15,000 per single repair. After the first year, the terms above will stay the same with the addition of $60,000 per year in rental fees, subject to increases each year following, equivalent to the Act 1 index.

At the special board meeting that immediately followed the committee meeting, the school board voted to approve the preschool license agreement with the CCIU at Gordon Elementary.

This raises a few questions – at a committee meeting in October, Taschner had initially mentioned the possibility of reopening Gordon to relieve overcrowding in the schools and limit the use of modular units in the district.

All six elementary schools were at capacity and South Brandywine Middle School had approximately 140 more students than the other two middle schools. With the financial constraints of the district, considering reopening the Gordon building seemed to be a logical solution.

None of this was discussed at Tuesday’s meeting and as of press time, Taschner had not responded to requests for more information.

The school board voted to display and advertise the proposed final budget. Business manager Ron Kabonick presented a projected balanced budget for 2016 – 2017 at Tuesday’s meeting, with revenues and expenditures equaling $154,794,245 with a 2.1% increase. Although higher than the statewide Act 1 index (2.4%), this increase is within the adjusted limit that is allowed for school districts with weakened tax bases.

Though the district is eligible for additional increases under exceptions to the Act 1 limit for pensions and special education, the proposed final budget does not indicate they will be taking these exceptions and the 3.1% will hold.

As the school board voted on the human resources report, they were reluctant to approve the retirement of Robert Fisher at the special board meeting. Before the final vote, Fisher was thanked for his never-ending dedication and devotion to his job, fellow administrators, teachers, students and staff in the district, with a standing ovation.

“I’m a better educator for having worked with him.” Taschner said. “It will be my greatest pleasure to see him enjoy a retirement that he has well earned through his faithful and longstanding service to this district.”

Taschner took the opportunity to announce that Michele Snyder, current principal of South Brandywine Middle School, will be the new principal of the 11/12 center of Coatesville High School, effective July 1, 2016.

The school board also received a facilities report from Craig Bramble. Bramble gave a presentation of the current HVAC unit at the Benner Building – apparently it had been wired incorrectly years ago and will not pass code, as it is unsafe. It will cost an additional $3,400 to replace the wiring of the unit. The school board voted to add it to the agenda of the special board meeting, after the committee meeting and approved the repair.

The school board also went through the first reading of several new policies – the 200 series – that include items such as the admission and withdrawal of students, immunizations and communicable diseases, health examinations/screenings and food allergy management.

During the committee meeting, former Coatesville High School graduate, David Hatt, who is also with Continental Football Club, presented a proposal to the school board to start a soccer league in Coatesville for children in the district.

Under the Continental banner, the league would be based at Rainbow Elementary and will offer competitive pricing to other local leagues (like EBYA and WBYA) and would be of no cost to the district, as they would build the goals, maintain the fields and provide practice coaches. The board voted to push this through to vote upon at the next board meeting April 26.

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