Minutes of Board Meeting Held on February 18, 2013
The regular meeting of the Octorara Area School Board was held in the Octorara Area Jr./Sr. High School Multi-Purpose Room on February 18, 2013. A moment of silence and the Pledge of Allegiance preceded the meeting. The President, Ms. Bowman, called the meeting to order at 7:30 p.m. Other members present were: Mr. Ganow, Mr. Hume, Ms. Johnson, Mr. Lapp, Dr. Melton, Mr. Norris, Mr. Oleyniczak, and Mr. Stoltzfus. Also present were; Mrs. Hardy, Secretary; Dr. Newcome, Superintendent; Mr. Carsley, Business Manager; members of the administrative team; one reporter, and 11 citizens. The minutes of the Work Session of January 14, 2013 and the Regular Meeting of January 21, 2013 were approved on motion of Mr. Ganow, second by Mr. Lapp and approval of all members present. Under presentations, Mr. Carsley said the Proposed Preliminary Budget figures have not changed since last week. Dr. Newcome presented a packet of information regarding the budget process including a history of budget reductions and revenue enhancements, Public Charter School costs, and contract information. He said the Board of Directors and Administration have spent many hours over multiple years learning the parameters that influence the budget process. He reviewed the information in the packet which is attached to these minutes as Appendix A-2/18/13. Dr. Newcome reminded the audience that he is available to discuss any items of concern they may have. Ms. Bowman thanked Dr. Newcome for the information. She said this information is not new to the Board. The information is good because it gives numbers to the budget problem. She said there is transparency in the budget process; the finance committee meetings are open to the public. One of the things discussed in tonight’s Finance Committee meeting was the additional $400,000 net in pension added to this year’s budget. This is a mandated item the Board cannot control. Ms. Bowman said the Board has been making cuts and there is less and less left to cut. She gave the example of a sinking ship. We don’t have much left to throw overboard. The Board has made deep cuts and tried many innovative things to accommodate for the cuts. She said what gets lost in budget conversation is the students. We need to provide a quality education with what we have. If we can’t provide what we need for the students, it will drive them to Public Charter Schools which the Octorara School District taxpayers pay for thus increasing millage. Ms. Bowman said she had a phone call this week from a parent of a current eighth grade student who attended last week’s Ninth Grade Orientation. The student and parent were excited about the programs offered at the Sr. High. The focus on the student’s can’t get lost in the budget discussions. Ms. Bowman encouraged the Board members to produce active comments on what they are willing to cut from the budget and not just vote no for the budget. Dr. Newcome noted pension is not a negotiable item. The Board does not control the State pension. Where the Board has controlled pension payments is by the reduction in staff thus reducing the pension payments. Mr. Norris said it important to note that the last three years the increase in millage rate in the Final Budget is at least 50% less in the Preliminary Budget. The Preliminary Budget is just that – preliminary. Mr. Norris requested figures for next month to include using more fund balance and taking the millage to the index. Mr. Norris said work will continue on the budget for the next four months. Dr. Newcome said he has heard conversation challenging the Board to look outside the box. This creates a presumption that there has not been outside the box thinking. One way the Board was successful with outside the box thinking was to reduce the number of students attending the Technical College High School while increasing the number of students that have the availability to technical education programs. We previously sent approximately 100 students to the Technical

College High School; we are currently sending approximately 75 students. We have expanded the availability of technical education to 180 students by adding programs with no additional expenditure. We anticipate a savings of $300,000 over the next three years while allowing more students access to these quality programs. Ms. Bowman said consideration was given during the renovation process at the Sr. High that would allow some technical education programs to be brought back to our own facilities at less cost to taxpayers. Mr. Lapp said he is all about trying to freeze taxes. He feels like the Octorara taxpayers need a break. Mr. Lapp said some of the suggestions he made are not legal to do. He also suggested using money from fund balance but was advised that may not be a good idea. Ms. Bowman said for at least the past four years, the Board has taken money from the fund balance to reduce tax millage. The conversation has not been if, but how much we will use. The ultimate concern is for our students; how can we provide programs for them to be successful. Ms. Bowman said the budget conversations will continue until the Final Budget is approved. There were no information items. The Treasurer’s Report, a copy of which is attached to these minutes as Appendix B-2/18/13 was presented by Ms. Johnson and approved on motion of Mr. Ganow, second by Mr. Stoltzfus and approval of all members present. A list of bills for the General Fund totaling $2,637,743.62; Athletic Fund totaling $7,850.45; Cafeteria Fund totaling $35,168.35, and Capital Projects totaling $640.25, of which are attached to these minutes as Appendix C-2/18/13, were approved and ordered paid on motion of Mr. Ganow, second by Mr. Stoltzfus and approval of all members present. Mr. Norris asked if the fuel bids are still done through the consortium. Mr. Carsley said fuel is bid out and the prices are down this year. Diesel fuel is $3.24 this year compared to $3.50 last year; gasoline is $3.19 compared to $3.41 last year. Under visitors’ comments for agenda items only, Mr. Tim Alexander, Parkesburg, said he started a petition to not only freeze taxes but to reduce taxes by 10% over the next five years. Mr. Alexander said in two weeks, he has 105 supporters of the petition. He said many have left comments on the website saying taxes are too high. One taxpayer from Atglen left a message that they are having difficulty selling their home because the taxes are out of line. Mr. Alexander said he appreciates Dr. Newcome’s comments that this is not just a revenue problem. He said he got the impression last week that it was a revenue problem due to agriculture preservation. He said he could not verify a mill in Octorara is $800,000 and in West Chester a mill is $8,000,000. No one doubts that we are a poorer community than West Chester and surrounding districts. He said we look more like the communities in Lancaster County with a lot of farms. He referenced a news article from November that showed we spent $4,000 more per student than the average Lancaster County school district. He said the Lancaster City School District spends a little more than $15,000 per student. He said when a person like himself hears we have cut all we can cut and looks at the per student cost in a neighboring school district, it is a tough pill to swallow. Mr. Alexander said he did research on salaries using Pay Scale which is used by national news sources. He said the median salary nationwide is $44,000 for teachers. The median salary for teachers in Pennsylvania is also just under $44,000. The city of Philadelphia median wage is $43,320. He said our teacher starting salary next year is going up to $49,000. Mr. Alexander said we are paying a premium for teachers. He said if we were more in line with national statistics, we would be paying less in taxes. The average reported salary in Octorara was $66,000. We can’t go to the union and ask them to cut their pay by $20,000 but we can go to the union and say taxpayers can’t pay anymore until your salaries look more like the state average. He said if teacher unions were so powerful everyone would be paying $66,000 for their teachers. Mr. Alexander referenced another school district whose 2012/2013 budget was going to have a $6,000,000 shortfall and would require cutting programs and furloughing teachers. The board approached the union and got concessions. He said we are paying


a premium for our teachers. We have reached a point that we can’t bear to pay more. He said it is not enough to say the taxes are frozen for this year. He said business is recovering but salaries are not going up – we can’t keep taxing people. He said Parkesburg has the highest millage in the two counties. It is unfair to taxpayers to keep piling on to pay premium wages to teachers. Mr. Alexander said the perception is we are not getting the return on the premium wages. He said whether that is true or not the perception is we are not getting return on these dollars. On motion of Mr. Stoltzfus, second by Mr. Hume and approval of all members present by a roll call vote, the Octorara Board of School Directors approved the Proposed Preliminary Budget for the 2013-2014 fiscal year. (Appendix D-2/18/13) Mr. Ganow reminded everyone this is only a preliminary budget. Ms. Bowman said the Board will work on reductions and the Final Budget will look different in June. The following items were approved on motion of Mr. Ganow, second by Mr. Stoltzfus and approval of all members present:

The Octorara Board of School Directors approved the following policies, first reading:
705 – Safety 709 – Building Security 907 – School Visitors The Octorara Board of School Directors approved the following Service Agreements: (Appendix E2/18/13) Precision Fire Protection, Inc. – Sprinkler - $1,000.00 Berkshire Systems Group, Inc. – Fire Alarm - $4,644.00 Tyco SimplexGrinnell – Fire Alarm - $589.00 The Octorara Board of School Directors approved the Tax Collector Appointment Resolution for the Octorara Area School District. (Appendix F-2/18/13) The Octorara Board of School Directors accepted Ms. Jean Mandell’s resignation as building secretary effective February 15, 2013. (Hired July 1, 2008) The Octorara Board of School Directors accepted, with regret, Ms. Emily Harper’s resignation as manager/cook/cashier at the Octorara Intermediate School effective January 31, 2013. (Hired August 30, 2004) The Octorara Board of School Directors approved Ms. Jacqueline Corkadel as an instructional assistant at the Octorara Jr. High School effective January 22, 2013. Ms. Corkadel’s rate will be $10.15 per hour for 5.75 hours per day. (Replacing Crystal Leonard who resigned.) The Octorara Board of School Directors approved Ms. Emily Harper as Food Service Assistant effective February 1, 2013. Ms. Harper’s salary will be $26,500 for seven hours a day, 200 days per year. (Replacing Robin Peace who resigned.) The Octorara Board of School Directors approved the following cafeteria substitutes at the rate of $8.25 per hour: Donna Mann Sherry Seace The Octorara Board of School Directors approved the following supplemental contracts for the 2012-2013 school year: Sarah Bollenback Assistant Musical Director 3 pts @ $585 $1,755


The following items were read and approved on motion of Mr. Ganow, second by Mr. Hume and approval of all members present:

The Octorara Board of School Directors accepted, with regret, Ms. Sharon Richey’s resignation as an instructional assistant at the Octorara Area Sr. High School effective February 7, 2013. (Hired August 30, 2004) The Octorara Board of School Directors approved Ms. Sharon Richey as a building secretary at the
Octorara Area Jr. High School effective February 8, 2013. Ms. Richey’s salary will be $29,500 pro-rated. (Replacing Jean Mandell who resigned.)

The Octorara Board of School Directors accepted, with regret, Ms. Melanie Wagner’s resignation
as an instructional assistant at the Octorara Elementary School effective February 15, 2013. (Hired August 27, 2007)

The Octorara Board of School Directors approved the following substitute teachers for the 20122013 school year: Victoria Cook (Elementary) Christine Payne (Elementary) Olivia Stout (Elementary)

The Octorara Board of School Directors approved the following substitute support staff for the
2012-2013 school year: Carrie Rettew On motion of Mr. Ganow, second by Mr. Norris and approval of all members present the Octorara Board of School Directors approved the proposed upgrades to the stadium field as submitted to the Facilities Committee for removal and replacement of the natural turf with irrigation and drainage systems. This work will be funded and coordinated by the Octorara Community Field Development Task Force. Mr. Ganow reminded everyone this will be paid entirely by the Task Force. Ms. Bowman said the Task Force has been meeting for over a year. They discussed a plan, implemented the plan, and are paying for the plan. She thanked members of the Task Force for the work they have put into the field development. Under the Finance Committee Report, Ms. Johnson said the Committee reviewed the Proposed Preliminary Budget. It was at times a tumultuous discussion on what can and cannot be done in accordance with the law. She said the discussion was nothing we haven’t answered before by thinking outside the box. Ms. Johnson said the Committee discussed what to do with old library books that were offered to students, staff, and the community libraries. Under the Policy Committee Report, Mr. Ganow said the Committee reviewed policies 705 Safety, 709 Building Security, and 907 School Visitors. There were minor wording changes – the second readings of these policies will be approved next month. The Committee also discussed policy 707 Use of Facilities. No changes were proposed at this time; the policy will be reviewed. Under the I.U./C.A.T. Board Representative’s report, Mr. Stoltzfus said the meeting will be held on Wednesday. Mr. Stoltzfus will be unable to attend but will forward the report when he receives it. There were no items of old business or new business. There were no other items or announcements or visitors’ comments for items in general.


Under administrator comments and announcements, Ms. Wilson said Octorara is hosting the District 12 Elementary Chorus Fest. We will have 120 elementary students from surrounding schools in Chester and Delaware Counties coming to participate in a day long choral event. Ms. Wilson invited everyone to come out and see these very talented young singers perform their concert with guest conductor, Joy Hirokawa from Moravian College on March 22, 2013 at 7:30 p.m. in Sr. High School auditorium. Tickets are $1.00 and are available at the door. Ms. Wilson congratulated Octorara students, Olivia Dorton, Ella Roselli, Emily Taylor, Melissa Gemma, Matthew Moore, and Julia Stoltzfus who will be participating in the event. Mr. Rohrer announced the following student achievements: Rachel Makansi and Meghan Miller were accepted into the prestigious Acel Moore Career Development Workshop through the Philadelphia Inquirer. They will be traveling each Saturday during the month of February to Philadelphia to work with journalists on writing, reporting, editing, photography and multimedia. At the conclusion of the month long workshop, they will have a piece published in the Inquirer. Emily Maxwell designed the logo for the local food cupboard. Mr. Talley’s woodshop students are creating the design in wood so it can be used as a sign for the building. Brett Lloyd won the Comcast Scholarship. Brett plans on attending Delaware County Community College for nursing. Thomas Aponte made an end table out of unused and outdated books weeded from the library. Thomas used a Good Housekeeping magazine article for his idea. Jr. High students, Alex Dilworth, Michael Choudhary, Dan Garfinkle, and Anastasia Gill traveled to Philadelphia to compete in the Future City Competition. The students created a virtual city in Sim City. They also researched and wrote an essay about storm water management and how it can be improved. The final part of the competition was to build a city from recycled and donated items. Using old computer parts and other collected items, students built the City of Itopolis. They were presented with an award for Attention to Building Codes in design of their city. Ms. McNamara announced the First Grade Open House and Art Show will be held this Thursday, February 21, 2013 followed by students signing patriotic songs in the PLC Multipurpose Room. Dr. Newcome announced there will be an Agriculture Fair on Saturday, April 13, 2013. This is an activity that has been developed with the intent over time to be a revenue stream. Dr. Newcome thanked Mr. Hume for his diligence in making this event happen. In response to Mr. Alexander’s comment, Dr. Newcome said he appreciates it when someone is listening and while he did indicate the budget consists of spending as well as revenue, he believes this Board of Directors over the last four years has been working hard with administration in controlling spending. The handouts show this effort. Dr. Newcome invited the audience to meet with him. He said he is impressed with the information Mr. Alexander is bringing forward and would love to have the opportunity to sit down at his convenience and meet with him. Under Board comments, Ms. Bowman shared a publication with figures from the Pennsylvania Department of Education that showed the average teacher salary in Pennsylvania for 2011-2012 was $60,674. Ms. Bowman said we have to have a balance between taxpayers and our students. We will not have anyone want to move into the District if there are 40 students in a classroom. As far as perception, we have many students who do well and go on and are successful. Ms. Bowman said students have excellent opportunities here. Our staff works hard to ensure student success. She said the story will continue to be to make do with less. Mr. Stoltzfus said the Board understands we have the highest millage in Chester County. The other part of the equation is we are number eleven in assessments. Our revenue is low because our assessments are low.


Mr. Hume said he thinks Mr. Alexander’s numbers are off and he won’t accept them. He said Dr. Newcome went to Harrisburg to try to get help. Mr. Hume said he went to a hearing in Harrisburg and gave information on the lack of tax base in the District. Dr. Newcome got help from Representative Houghton to have people come in and look at bringing industry to the community. The election came and Representative Houghton was voted out. Mr. Hume believes there is a strong effort to keep the area the way it is – many people don’t want development. He said we have been fighting this for ten years. Our state representatives and senators hear us but won’t do anything. If we don’t have a tax base to keep up with expenses, who is going to pay for it? Mr. Hume said he did the same thing that Mr. Alexander is doing 15 years ago. He said his thoughts have changed a little bit since then. Mr. Hume thinks the District should file a class action suit against how we are taxed. He said we have lost close to $6,000,000 through land preservation. Mr. Hume said there was an amendment to reimburse areas like Octorara but it never passed. Mr. Hume encouraged the audience to contact their legislators to do something about it. We need to petition Harrisburg to release funds to this area. He said we can’t keep the budget the same because everything is going up. Mr. Hume thanked Mr. Rohrer for adding the Homeland Security and Protective Service Course to the Program of Studies. He believes this will be beneficial to the local medical and fire companies as well. Mr. Hume said we have great facilities here. His grandchildren and great grandchildren have gotten an excellent education here. Mr. Hume thanked those who were in attendance for coming to the meeting. He said this is budget time and the room should be full but many chairs are empty. Mr. Hume said he believes football should have been part of the discussion years ago and been part of the progression in doing things. He believes the Board is obligated to get the bleachers, fencing, and box office for the field. He said when looking at all the other improvements, he believes football was overlooked. Mr. Ganow asked Dr. Newcome for a report on the graduation rate compared to other districts as well as where we are with teacher salaries compared to Lancaster and Chester Counties. Ms. Bowman asked that the report include starting and ending points for salaries. She said the Board will be voting on bleachers month. Mr. Lapp thanked Mr. Alexander for his comments. He said he shares his concern for taxes and encouraged ideas for making cuts. Ms. Johnson addressed an issue a kindergarten parent asked about a miscommunication regarding school being in session on Friday. Dr. Newcome will look into it. Mr. Oleyniczak suggested putting no parking signs on Rt. 41 within the property lines of the District. Suspicious vehicles are brought to the attention of administration when they are observed. Mr. Oleyniczak said this may reduce the incidents and eliminate the time school personnel spends checking the vehicles out. Mr. Stoltzfus said the signs would have to be approved by the state. Mr. Norris said he appreciates Mr. Alexander’s research. He challenged him to look at the effects of being a multi-county district. Everyone wants to compare us to Lancaster County when reality is we are located in Chester County. Any building projects have had to be paid at Philadelphia prevailing wage which are a stark contrast to Lancaster County. The other reality is Clean and Green. Mr. Norris said it is approaching $1,000 on average per taxpayer that the tax is shifted from the farmer to other residents. Mr. Norris asked that the functionality of the balance beam be checked on PLC playground and how necessary that piece of equipment is. He said we should consider moving it if it represents a liability. Ms. Bowman thanked everyone at the table and in the audience for the conversation. We will continue to look at what we can eliminate and what the ramifications are of what will be cut. Ms.


Bowman cautioned comparing Lancaster and Chester Counties, even Girl Scout cookies are fifty cents more per box in Chester County than Lancaster County. Ms. Bowman announced the following meetings to be held: Executive Session for personnel – Monday, February 18, 2013 – Following the Regular Meeting in the District Office Conference Room Education Committee Meeting – Monday, February 25, 2013 – 6:00 p.m. in the District Office Conference Room Facility Committee Meeting – Monday, March 11, 2013 – 6:00 p.m. in the District Office Conference Room Next regularly scheduled Work Session – Monday, March 11, 2013 – 7:30 p.m. in the Jr. High School Multi-Purpose Room Policy Committee Meeting – Monday, March 18, 2013 – 6:00 p.m. in the Jr. High School Multi-Purpose Room Finance Committee Meeting – Monday, March 18, 2013 – 6:30 p.m. in the Jr. High School Multi-Purpose Room Next regularly scheduled Board Meeting – Monday, March 18, 2013 – 7:30 p.m. in the Jr. High School Multi-Purpose Room Education Committee Meeting – Monday, March 25, 2013 – 6:00 p.m. in the District Office Conference Room There being no further items of business the meeting adjourned at 8:53 p.m. on motion of Mr. Ganow, second by Mr. Stoltzfus and approval of all members present. Respectfully submitted,

Jill L. Hardy, Secretary Octorara Board of School Directors