Budget limbo

By on March 18, 2015

Gov. Wolf’s plan could help district taxpayers, if approved

Ukulele students, under the direction of John Beck music teacher Michele Conrad, play for Warwick School Board members Tuesday night. (photo by Laura Knowles)

Ukulele students, under the direction of John Beck music teacher Michele Conrad, play for Warwick School Board members Tuesday night. (photo by Laura Knowles)

Putting together the Warwick School District 2015-16 budget this year promises to be more challenging than usual.

At the school board meeting on March 17, board member Michael Landis reported that he expects it to be “interesting” and a “lengthy, drawn-out process.”

The reason is, according to the board, that the new governor Tom Wolf has presented his budget address and state funding for education is uncertain. Hearings are currently going on in Harrisburg, and no one knows how it will turn out for the state’s budget.

“If the state doesn’t have a budget in place, what do we do?” asked Landis, who was representing the district’s Finance and Legal Committee.

Landis reported that year-end financials for the current budget are tracking close to what was projected, except for healthcare costs, which were higher than anticipated.

If the educational funding that Wolf is proposing would be approved, Warwick School District could benefit from an additional $680,952 in basic and special education funding, as well as $227,691 in relief with cyber charter reform. District taxpayers could receive a 26.39 percent residential real estate tax reduction.

All of that is up in the air, Landis said. The Warwick School District still has to proceed with presenting its proposed final budget in April and get final approval in June, even though the state’s budget is still in process.

“Stay tuned,” noted school board member Millard Eppig of the Legislative Committee.

One thing that has been set for certain is the June 9 graduation date for Warwick High School seniors. The class of 2015 will hold their commencement ceremonies at Calvary Church in Manheim Township.

The board approved the adoption of a new independent study course in conjunction with Sechan Electronics in Lititz. The course will give approved students the opportunity to do an internship in electronics through real-world work experience.

In personnel matters, the board approved the retirements of five teachers, effective at the end of the 2014-15 school year. They include Mari Cummins as Lititz Elementary School physical education teacher and Debra McDonald as learning facilitator at John R. Bonfield Elementary School.

Joanne Hess is retiring as family and consumer sciences teacher at Warwick Middle School, while Kathy Rill is retiring as language arts teacher at the middle school. David Hoffman is retiring as German teacher at Warwick High School.

The school board approved the appointment of Jessica Bigsby as a learning support teacher at Lititz Elementary. Two volunteer coaches, Samantha Derr and Alex Gibbel, were approved by the board.

The board approved a proposal from the Warwick Boys Lacrosse Club for installing portable safety netting on the fields. The netting is a donation from the club at no cost to the school district, and can be moved as needed.

A contract with RoofConnect, Gooding Simpson and Mackes Roofing, through the TCPN cooperative purchasing network will provide the school district with significant savings on the roof replacement project at John R. Bonfield Elementary School, at an estimated roofing cost of $817,323. Bonfield is undergoing a $4.2 million renovation project, which is being managed by Trane Heating & Cooling for a four-pipe uni-vent system that is expected to provide better temperature comfort, dehumidification and energy savings.

Work has started on the Bonfield renovation project, but only after school hours. Once school finishes in June, work will continue on a full-time basis over the summer, and should be complete in time for the start of school in fall 2015.

Sunday use requests were approved for the Warwick football team to use the turf stadium for midget football clinics, for the Pennsylvania Classics AC to use various fields for the Challenger Invitational Tournament in May, and for Warwick Youth Girls Softball to use baseball fields for practice.

Before the meeting began, the Warwick School Board was serenaded by a choir of ukuleles directed by John Beck music teacher Michele Conrad.

Laura Knowles is a local freelance reporter who covers the Warwick School District beat for the Record Express. She welcomes reader feedback at lknowles21@gmail.com. 

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