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School board offers early retirement plan Also approves demo of McCall House
By: MICHAEL C. UPTON Record Express Correspondent, Staff Writer
Warwick School District Board of Directors unanimously passed a plan Tuesday offering early retirement incentives for full-time professional employees. The plan only effects those employees listed in the collective bargaining unit.
Recently, other districts in the county have offered early retirement incentive plans in order to create a savings to districts’ budgets. The Warwick early retirement incentive plan is only eligible to employees who opt to retire at the end of the 2011/12 school year who meet the criteria of combined years of service plus age to equal at least 70 as of June 30, 2012.
A minimum of 12 employees must submit letters of resignation for the plan to become active. If choosing to retire early, retirees will receive a cash bonus of $15,000 paid no later than Aug. 31, 2012, the ability to continue-at full premium cost to retiree-coverage in the district’s health care plan and any and all benefits specified in the current collective bargaining agreement.
In related news, the board approved the resignation of high school social studies teacher Curtis Morris effective Nov. 8.
Board member Darryl Miller reported that the district finance and legal committee continued preliminary discussion on the 2012/3 school year budget.
"We walked through the budget calendar for … the upcoming school year," Miller said. "(District Business Manager Dave Zerbe) will follow up with us in December with some preliminary numbers."
Pursuant to state regulations, the district must adopt a preliminary budget by Jan. 25, 2012. Zerbe said he expects the board to vote on a preliminary budget during the regular business meeting on Jan. 17, 2012.
"We’ll need to advertise that budget by Jan. 5, so right when we get back from the holidays a number will have to be in the format that the Pennsylvania Department of Education requires. That will be presented to the board. Obviously, that will be a first draft version of the budget," Zerbe said. "(The budget) is dependent upon how the revenue picture unfolds as we see the Governor’s budget presented, which isn’t required to be done until February. So, we’re probably a good month ahead of the governor in terms of our budget projections."
Miller also reported that the district received a clean report on a June 30 audit.
"So, a very clean audit report. My compliments to Dave (Zerbe) and his team for helping," Miller said.
During the building and property committee report, board member Warren Newberry made a recommendation to the board concerning the McCall House located near John Beck Elementary School. The committee recommended demolition of the house, which the district purchased in October2000. The 9.9-acre tract included a barn torn down in 2003 for school additions and renovation, and the house has been unoccupied since 2005. According to the committee’s recommendation, the option of using the space for instruction was explored as well as offering the residence as a rental property, but considered both options impractical. There was no discussion on the matter Tuesday and the motion passed unanimously.
In a lighter moment, it was reported that student representative Abigail Barthe is a junior at Warwick High School. This information, referenced several times throughout the meeting, came to light after board member Jeff Conrad inquired about senior class fund-raising efforts. Zerbe said the amount raised by the senior class selling candy bars would eventually be seen in the district’s budget and would follow up on the matter.
Toward the end of the meeting during the student activities committee report, discussion arose concerning a high school trip to Cozumel, Mexico. The trip is a cruise organized by music head teacher Deb Kline-Smith. Annually, Kline-Smith organizes a trip for students interested in music performance.
"Students will be given two performance opportunities while on board, once in the venue with professional sound, stage, lighting and then in the open atrium area," said board chair Todd Rucci. "This trip we actually spent about 45 minutes (discussing) with a lot of comments from the committee — everything from curriculum base to safety. At the end of it we felt okay."
Board member Millard Eppig Jr. had concerns about the trip.
"Don’t get me wrong, I understand you want our kids to be immersed in different activities, but on a cruise to Mexico? There are other venues to perform at closer to home," Eppig said. "I’m not against the kids performing or playing at a venue, but this is a cruise to Mexico."
Kline-Smith, who was in attendance at Tuesday’s meeting, spoke to the history of the program and safety measures in place. According to Kline-Smith, the student to chaperone ratio will be two to one. The motion passed 8-1 with Eppig the lone dissenting vote. More SCHOOL BOARD, page A6