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|March 13, 2000 Committe of the Whole and School Board Meeting Minutes
Committee of the Whole
March 13, 2000
The Penn Manor School Board met as a Committee of the Whole on the above date at 6:00 p.m. in the Cafetorium of the Manor Middle School. Present were Mr. Anderson, Mr. Fields, Dr. Frerichs, Ms. Herr, Mr. Herr, Mr. Kline, Mr. Kreider, Mrs. Wert, and Mrs. Withum. Present from the administrative staff were Dr. Campbell, Mr. Skrocki, and Mr. Stewart. Also in attendance were Penn Manor residents, Mr. Charlie Reisinger for his presentation, and Dolores Warfel.
The meeting was called to order at 6:13 p.m. by Mr. Herr.
Mr. Herr asked if there were any Citizens Comments. There were none at this time.
Mr. Charlie Reisinger presented a state-of-the-union address on technology and information relating to the Intranet to board members. He stated that 26,795 individuals (4,449 unique hosts) have visited the Penn Manor web site since December, 1999. Mr. Reisinger stated that Penn Manor is now hosting their own web server rather than using I.U. services. This provides an opportunity to host other community web sites, etc. Forty teachers are currently receiving web page training via 17 hours of evening classes. Mr. Reisinger informed the board that Link-to-Learn grant money is being used to educate teachers and students with regard to web pages. In the past we have used Link-to-Learn funds to upgrade our district-wide network, provide computers for classroom use, and deliver web design professional development to teachers. Technology related projects currently being worked on are: Electronic Grade Books - Mr. Reisinger said moving to this system would allow teachers to do student grades on computers which are then processed on our system. Ongoing computer network maintenance. Technology Committee - Mr. Reisinger stated that custodians, teachers, and administrative staff members are on the committee. The committee is looking at the current Strategic Plan and redesigning it for the next four years. The committee will be coming up with recommendations and plans. This information will be presented to the board at a later date. Multi-media Projects Via Video and Interactive Programming - Mr. Reisinger stated we are the first school district in the I.U., and possibly the state, to deliver a Superintendents message via video on the web site. This message was then shared with those in attendance. The fact that virtual reality software was being used was also discussed with Mr. Reisinger demonstrating a virtual reality tour of Manor Middle School. He stated that this type of tour could be used on the web page for construction projects as a means of keeping individuals updated as to what is going on. It could also be looked at as a learning tool for use by students who are out of school due to illness, etc. Mr. Reisinger then discussed the search for and use of current grant money with relationship to technology. He reviewed the Digital Grassroots Grant that funded last years Wheatland web project and stated it is being applied for again this year. Mr. David Milisock, 102 Spring Meadow Lane, asked if there is any intention to use the virtual high school type program for suspended students which would give them access to curriculum materials while suspended thus providing them with an education while keeping them separated from the student body. Mr. Reisinger said he did not wish to speak for the board but indicated it is one of the uses that could be looked at. He then discussed the Millersville University Digital Network Link being looked at. This project which is currently being explored would be a partnership with Millersville University which would provide for high speed Internet and Video Learning access. It would provide access to faster/better Internet access at a fraction of our current costs and would tie Penn Manor into the university network and in essence Penn Manor would appear on the network as a building on the university campus. Penn Manor would then have Internet access via Millersville University as opposed to I.U.13. Mr. Reisinger stated that being involved with the Millersville University network would allow for collaboration between teachers and professors and students and the university. Distance learning would then be investigated. Dr. Campbell stated that Penn Manor would have access to every resource Millersville University has for less money than services we obtain from the I.U. He said Penn Manor is willing to pay to have a trench dug from Penn Manor property to Pucillo Gym for installation of the network because of the benefits Penn Manor will derive from this venture. He stated that Millersville University is very interested in pursuing this project. Mr. Reisinger then discussed digital lockers at the high school and the fact that digital lockers are being looked at for the middle schools. Students would be given an account name and password. If used in seventh grade, this account name and password would follow the student through their high school experience. Mr. Reisinger then discussed highlights of the 2000-2001 Technology Budget. He said the high school CAD drafting lab will be replaced with modern 2D/3D systems, computers in high school English, Ag, Business Ed, and Library will be replaced with the current computers moving to the middle school writing labs and Tech ED classrooms. Current middle school computers will then move to the elementary level. Ms. Herr questioned whether local architects were ever contacted regarding what they do with old CAD. Mr. Reisinger said they have not been contacted but it could be looked into. Mr. Reisinger stated that evening adult education technical courses for residents such as Introduction to Word Processing and Introduction to the Internet are being look at. The web based information system and online teacher forms will be expanded, Penn Manor continues to receive a return on their investment of $57,000 because of the wireless Wide Area Network (WAN). Link-to-Learn allocation will receive estimated 25% reduction with the estimated funding for the 2000-2001 school year being $35,250. Mr. Reisinger stated that the budget grand total ($321,500) represents a maximum dollar amount. The actual figure may be offset by grant funding and connectivity partnerships with Millersville University. E-rate will also offset costs but since the amount to be received is uncertain from year to year it is not included. The Intranet site was then reviewed. It is an internal web site available to employees only. Mr. Reisinger shared some of the things being done on the Intranet such as the electronic bulletin board for students and teachers, attendance and daily bulletins, various forms (discipline referrals and SAP), and budget information. He stated that the Intranet content is continually expanding. Mr. Reisinger was asked if teaching is being done via computers. He stated that computers are used as a tool to facilitate learning with inclusion of the web and in-service training. They are not just used for clerical purposes. Mr. Milisock asked if we are making an effort to communicate with families as to their computer availability so that service could be used to support communication. He was told that no such effort has been made to date but it could be looked into. Mr. Herr thanked Mr. Reisinger for his presentation.
Dr. Campbell asked the board for input regarding scheduled meetings for 2000-2001. He reviewed the fact that discussion has taken place in the past regarding having board meetings rotate from building to building. He stated there are advantages to both rotating meetings and having them held in a single location. After reviewing proposed dates it was determined that the July 3, 2000 meeting should be eliminated with the July 10 meeting time changed from 7:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m.. Also, the proposed November 27 meeting was rescheduled for November 20. On a motion by Mr. Fields, a second by Mr. Anderson, and a unanimous voice vote the item was approved for placement on the March School Board Meeting Agenda.
Mr. Skrocki reviewed the proposed storm water rehabilitation project being engaged in by Millersville Borough and the distribution of construction costs for Penn Manor and Millersville University. He stated that part of the erosion problem was caused by Millersville and part by Penn Manor. There is no question that Penn Manor is responsible for repairing some of the erosion problem on the Silar property. Mr. Skrocki said he and Dr. Campbell met with Mike Morris, Borough Manager, to facilitate a solution to the problem. It was decided, with Mr. Morris being agreeable, to have the Boroughs engineer review information provided by the engineers employed by both Millersville University (Foreman) and Penn Manor (Rettew). As a result of this review, it was determined that Penn Manor is responsible for 40% of the construction cost with Millersville University being responsible for 60% of the construction cost. The initial estimate of costs involved is $160,000 which amounts to a cost of $64,000 for Penn Manor. When Millersville Borough submits bids for the project part of the specifications will include Penn Manors repair to the erosion problem. This will result in a cost savings. Mr. Skrocki recommended approval of the 40% Penn Manor/60% Millersville University split with the understanding that funds for this money come from the remaining high school construction project since the problem came from that project and that the bid for this project be done by the Borough of Millersville. He stated that this proposal has been reviewed by the solicitor. Mr. Fields asked if there were any other areas where remaining high school construction project money could be used. Mr. Skrocki said there were some items cut from the construction project and stated that there is a priority list of items that the administration would like to see completed. Mr. Skrocki stated that there would be $30,000 left in the fund for other uses or for any upcoming renovations in the district via transfer to the Capital Reserve Fund. He stated that Rettew might be willing to assist Penn Manor with payment of this project in some fashion because it was their design that caused the problem originally. They may, for instance, provide services on the high school track project or lower the cost of this project. Mrs. Wert questioned why Rettew would not be responsible for all costs. Mr. Skrocki stated that the solicitor has stated that the only legal obligation Rettew has is to replace the larger orifice with a smaller orifice and that they have already done. He stated that it appears the corrective work being done now could have been done originally but was not done due to cost savings measures taken. Mr. Fields questioned if there is any leverage which could cause Rettew to cover all of this cost. Mr. Skrocki said there is none but due to business relations with them they are willing to help out. On a motion by Dr. Frerichs, a second by Mr. Anderson, and a unanimous voice vote this item was approved for placement on the March School Board Meeting Agenda.
The Lancaster-Lebanon I.U.13 Budget was then reviewed. Mr. Skrocki referred board members to the packet they received regarding this topic. He stated that the I.U. General Operating Budget requires no school district contributions. The I.U. IMS Budget requires school district contribution with Penn Manors share being $43,194. This figure would be included in the Penn Manor budget. The proposed I.U. budget reflects a 0 increase over the current year. Mr. Skrocki requested permission to place this item on the March School Board Meeting Agenda for approval. On a motion by Pat Kline, a second by Mr. Fields, and a unanimous voice vote this item was approved for placement on the March School Board Meeting Agenda.
Mrs. Wert asked Board members to look at information she distributed regarding the Lancaster Academy Budget. She asked that they note the change in salary for the Director from $37,000 to $39,700 and the fact that benefits will be given to this individual. She stated that the director is a 221 day employee with a Masters Degree. Mrs. Wert informed board members that tutor salaries will be increased to $17 per hour which Mrs. Wert stated is still well below the going rate. Mrs. Wert informed the board that no district will be charged an increase. The cost per district will remain at $16,500. Mrs. Wert recommended approving the budget and asked that board members sign the ballot she distributed and return it to her as soon as possible. On a motion by Mr. Fields, a second by Ms. Herr and a unanimous voice vote this item was approved for placement on the March School Board Meeting Agenda.
The March School Board Meeting Agenda was reviewed. Dr. Frerichs stated that he would agree to Item 1C-Use of Credit Cards for Real Estate Tax Payments with the understanding that it is being done on an experimental basis. He stated he wanted it to be clear that this program is considered a pilot program for one year with review at its completion regarding its success. Mr. Skrocki said he will report to the board in September regarding its success and a decision can then be made as to whether the practice should continue the next year. Mr. Skrocki stated that the language regarding not taking a discount has been approved by the solicitor. Item 1E - Per Capita and Occupation Tax - Discussion ensued regarding this item with Mr. Skrocki stating that $38,000 would be saved in expenses. Historically the collection rate for per capita and occupation taxes is 85% with the collection rate for real estate taxes being 97%. Retirees do not pay occupation taxes so their taxes could possibly lower when not having to pay the per capita tax. Item 6 - Approval to Bid - Radio Equipment (PA Safe Schools Grant - This will allow Martic Elementary School to communicate via walkie-talkie with others in the district as well as within the building at a cost of $11,000 which will come from the PA Safe Schools Grant.
Mr. Skrocki reviewed individual budgets for athletics, transportation and business services. He stated that board members would receive a summary of the athletic budget at a later date. The Athletic Budget of $116,500 equals a 0 increase over the current year. Mr. Skrocki then explained the distribution of various line items such as the fact that the cost of reconditioning wrestling mats and ambulance services for football games would be included in Purchasing of Professional Services and things like laundering of football uniforms would be included in Purchased Services. Mr. Skrocki stated that the Trips to Fields category covers taking athletes from Comet Field to the high school in the evening and the Trips to Games category covers providing transportation to games. When reviewing the Transportation Budget of $2,089,505 he stated that this represents an overall increase of 6.69% caused by a 3.5% Consumer Price Index increase, money spent for train transportation to Devereaux Day School for a student, $50,000 to cover the cost of a possible need for two additional buses, and $1,000 for a second Driver Safety Meeting. He stated that the $182,905.80 figure cited for I.U. transportation covers the cost of transporting students requiring I.U. services who are not going to Penn Manor buildings. Dr. Frerichs thanked Mr. Skrocki for his summary and asked that he continue to provide summaries.
Eshleman and Letort renovations were then discussed. Dr. Campbell reviewed last weeks meeting and gave a summary of the results. Dr. Campbell informed those in attendance that answers to the questions submitted at the March 8 meeting are on the web page and that he would be willing to provide a hard copy upon request. He stated that after the March 8 meeting the board determined that those in attendance had stressed that it was highly desirable to maintain the neighborhood school concept, the board should be prudent and practical with any and all renovations (dont get frivolous), consider the need for music and art rooms when renovating, improve parking at both buildings, talk with Millersville Borough about improving the sidewalks, and not put sixth graders in the middle schools. Dr. Campbell stated that the board has no desire to place sixth grade students in middle schools at this time. He said there is a desire to maintain small class size and small building size by both the board and those in attendance at the March 8 meeting. He stated that each school has an extremely loyal group of parents and teachers. Dr. Campbell concluded that he realizes it is in the best interest of the board and administration to do a better job of communicating. The four options considered and the history leading up to these options was then reviewed. Consideration given to having administrative offices was discussed with an explanation given regarding reimbursement available when putting administrative offices in a renovated building project versus building a separate administrative office building. Enrollment projections were also discussed. Dr. Campbell stated that minor renovations would be made to Eshleman if option 4 was considered. If $400,000 was set aside per year so money would be available for Eshleman renovations, if enrollment figures warrant renovation at that time, it would involve the increase of 1/4 of a mill. Mrs. Dell Tooth, 61 Blue Rock Road, spoke on behalf of the Eshleman PTO expressing concern over possibly losing Eshleman. She asked that consideration be given to option 1 stating she is concerned about the affect two years of uncertainty would have on the morale of students, and staff. She asked for a commitment by the board to not close Eshleman stating that after waiting for renovations it would be unjust to close the school and scatter students. Mrs. Tooth questioned if Eshleman parents will be given a commitment beyond Eshleman remaining open if board members choose option 4. She stated parents have heard rumors and said an effort will be made to have a representative at every board meeting in order to help improve communications. She stated that all voices need to be heard. She indicated she was moved by the senior citizens who came forward to provide support. Mrs. Tooth stated that the Eshleman parents support immediate renovation of Letort and asked for support securing the future of Eshleman. She said the decision to close a school would have a negative impact on all of the schools in the district. Mr. David Milisock, 102 Spring Meadow Lane, stated he fully supports maintaining both schools and thinks the board will make a prudent decision. He stated that the proper funding of schools by the state is a major issue. He also stated that if more people would attend board meetings there would be a consensus in the community who would understand what a difficult position the board is in. He stated his concern that the only time a full room is seen is when there are rumors of disaster. He said money is an issue and said there is a need to go head-to-head with legislators and get funding changed. Mr. Milisock stated that if those in attendance wanted to keep Eshleman and Letort open they must write letters to Gib Armstrong and John Barley or call their legislators and express their concerns. Mr. Milisock reiterated that he supports keeping both schools open. Greg Habecker, 173 Victoria Road, asked board members to make a responsible decision and stated that he feels confident it will be made. He also asked that they consider the financial side - taxes. He stated that Eshleman is located in Millersville and if that community is without a school he feels property values and the tax basis will be affected. Mr. Habecker stated that a community of 7,500 residents needs a community school. He stated that he is fine with waiting for Eshleman to be renovated but asked the board for a commitment to that renovation. He indicated he doesnt want to be in the same position two years from now and find Eshleman will be closed. Mr. Habecker stated that option 4 earmarks 1/4 of a mill which if tied to Eshleman would go a long way toward the cost of renovating Eshleman. He stated that with the anticipated timeframe for renovation of Eshleman he felt two million dollars could be accumulated toward the renovation. He asked for a good-will commitment to keep Eshleman open. Chris Beaudoin, 218 East Charlotte Street, asked where students are going to go while the buildings are renovated. She questioned if other elementary schools would be overcrowded with Letort students if Letort needs to be closed for part of the time renovations are being made. Mr. Herr said there is a plan that would eliminate the use of space by the I.U. thereby providing space for Letort students so they could stay with their teachers. Dr. Campbell stated that the bulk of Letort students would probably be assigned to Central Manor. He indicated the district would like to keep Letort students with Letort students and do the same with Eshleman students if possible. Dr. Campbell stated that he cant promise students will be assigned with a particular teacher or that a particular neighborhood will go to a specific location. He stated that every child will be identified on a computer and a master plan will then be derived. He stated that they hope to maintain the neighborhood school concept and dont want to move students passed one school to another school but there will be some inconvenience. He stated that the administration will try to make as many parents happy as possible. Mr. Tom Falk, 430 North George Street, raised the following questions should both schools be renovated: What would the estimated millage increase per household be over a period of time? Is an increase in the debt percentage of less than 5% overall being looked at? What are long term gains? What will taxpayers have to pay per household over how may years to renovate both buildings? Mr. Frank Fair, 28 West Frederick Street, stated he is retired. Over the last 3-4 years his house was reassessed and taxes tripled with no increase in his retirement. If this happens in a year or two he indicated he will have to sell his home and move. He understands the concern of the people having children but he does not have children. He stated that in the past he has seen promises of no tax increase and that senior citizens would get a break but hasnt seen a break yet. Mrs. Sue Miller, 154 New Street, said she lived in the district eight years before having children entering school and plans on staying. She asked that the board maintain the neighborhood school. She stated she looked over past board minutes and agendas and could not find where moving sixth graders to middle schools was discussed. She asked for a commitment from the board to keeping the sixth graders in the elementary schools. Mrs. Miller said she would need to be shown Penn Manors philosophy if this change were made. Mrs. Miller questioned whether the enrollment numbers would change so drastically so that sixth graders could stay in the elementary school. She stated that she would have to see proof that sixth graders would benefit from being in the middle schools. Mrs. Miller stated that options 2 and 3 are unacceptable. Mrs. Karen Napier, 341 Manor Avenue, said she would like to know in two years how board members feel when she goes to the polls and individuals are asked how they feel about individuals running for election at that time. She said she keeps hearing about $400,000. Can board members look at the budget and see other areas (how much money is being put into the high school for instance) and could some of that money be converted? She stated that taxpayers and residents are concerned. Mr. Skrocki then reviewed statistics relating to a potential millage increase of 2 1/4 mills, cost to the average tax payer ($200-$250), possible bond issue and how it could be phased in over a three year period, and the fact that the bond issued for the high school project was phased in over a four year period. Mr. Tom Falk said it appears that everyone is focusing on option 1 and option 4. He stated he would like to see how much each household would be impacted if the board would borrow four million dollars. He stated that if it is done over a three year period a tax increase of $200 or $300 is more understandable than saying we are borrowing four million dollars. He indicated it may be better to work toward renovating both buildings now than waiting two years with the possibility of it costing more later due to an increase in construction costs. Mr. Skrocki said Penn Manor School District has three million dollars in the Capital Reserve Fund and money in the fund balance so a building project could be done now assuming the cost would be three million dollars. The question becomes what happens 3-4 years from now. You cant do a bond issue now unless you start drawing on that money in the next 3 years. If option 4 is selected there is no need for a bond issue at the current time. Mr. David Milisock, 102 Spring Meadow Lane, said that at the March 8 meeting Dr. Campbell said if we do option 4 and then in two years renovate Eshleman it may be possible to fund both projects without having to borrow much or any money. Discussion ensued regarding possible transfer of money from the Capital Reserve Fund, possible floating of a bond and the fact that it might be prudent to wait to float a bond since interest rates may decline over the next several years. Mr. Frank Fair asked if there is any possibility of senior citizens getting a break in taxes. Mr. Herr stated that the board is aware of the strain put on senior citizens and individuals on fixed incomes but there needs to be some help coming from Harrisburg. Mr. Fair stated that four years ago it was promised something would be done for senior citizens by Harrisburg and he is still waiting. Mr. David Milisock, 102 Spring Meadow Lane, said Act 50 is what he was talking about. He stated it is very complex and very difficult to enact. Mr. Lou Ockey, 222 Manor Avenue, stated that he had a procedural question. He asked for a vote of confidence that the board would go ahead with Eshleman renovations. He stated that the Boroughs Comprehensive Plan stated it was important to keep Eshleman open and that keeping Eshleman open is supported by parents, etc. He asked that a commitment to keep Eshleman open be made by the board. Mr. Herr said all of the board members would like to keep Eshleman open but in 2-3 years things could change. Mr. Ockey said he would like the board to indicate their intent to keep Eshleman open stated when a motion is made. He asked if it would be possible that wording could include intent to keep Eshleman open when a vote comes up. Mr. Herr said that was possible. Mr. Fields asked Mr. Herr to clarify what he said yes to. Mr. Herr stated that he said the board would indicate their intent to keep Eshleman Elementary School open when making a motion regarding the renovations of Letort and Eshleman.
The Committee of the Whole adjourned to Executive Session at 8:05 p.m. on a motion by Dr. Frerichs, a second by Mrs. Withum, and a unanimous voice vote.
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