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Tuesday Vote Will Shape GVSD Budget Process

The Great Valley School Board will decide Tuesday night whether to keep Act 1 exceptions on the table.

At its Tuesday night meeting, the Great Valley School District Board of Directors will decide whether to keep any tax increase for the 2013-14 school year within the state-mandated inflation index of 1.7 percent.

The vote will determine how—and when—the rest of the budgeting process will unfold.

The decision boils down to approving one of two resolutions, as stated in the online meeting agenda:

Board adopts resolution to either approve going forward with the Act 1 budget process and applying for eligible referendums or adopts a resolution to waive the Act 1 process and construct the budget within the 1.7% Index for the 2013-2014 School Year.

Great Valley Act 1 Preliminary Budget and Referendum Resolution 2013.2014.pdf (7 KB) 
Great Valley Act 1 Opt Out Resolution 2013.2014.pdf (77 KB) 

The above slide, taken from the Jan. 14 Great Valley School Board budget presentation, lists the important dates in the 2013-14 budget process. The information is also listed below. 

Jan 22: Deadline to approve Resolution not to raise taxes over Act 1 Index

Feb 19: Board adopts preliminary budget if opt out Resolution is NOT adopted

Apr 22: Board adopts preliminary budget if opt out Resolution IS adopted

May 13: Final budget available for inspection (20 days beforeadoption)

May 20: Public notice of intent to adopt final budget (10 daysbefore adoption)

June 3: Final budget adoption (must be before June 30)

Abraham January 22, 2013 at 03:52 PM
It's the same song and dance every year. No one want to see taxes raised, much less raised above the 1.7% Act I index, but to take the possibility of using the exceptions off the table this early in the process is foolish. Mr. Leisenring, Mr. Foret and Ms. Ravenfeld will no doubtedly push to not consider the exceptions. Their role on the board has nothing to do with educating our kids and fostering one of the best districts in the state. These three - and the recently resigned Mr. Chambers - are all about limiting and eventually destroying public education. It's the Republican/Tea Party way!
Steve January 22, 2013 at 07:46 PM
Fortunately, though, Abraham you know better. While you say no one wants to see taxes raised, you obviously do, Abraham. So do the union yes men and women. By limiting tax increases to the rate of inflation that will destroy public education you say and then include the clichéd attack on Republicans and Tea Party people (very predictable). In real adjusted for inflation dollars we (pretty much everywhere in the country) spend many times more than was spent years ago and the results are not only no better but they are for the most part worse. When the board members you criticize held the majority the scores went up and the taxes did not. Spending more does not equate to better education for our children. When Ms. Behrle ran for School Board she claimed that the statutes limited the discretion of the board so as far as tax increases were concerned, there would be no difference. This vote proves that to be completely untrue. Many of our taxpayers are getting no increase (not even an inflation adjustment) now in their compensation/dividends/retirement due to the economy. Perhaps we should consider them when we think about this issue. Abraham, enjoy the teacher's union meeting.
Jared January 22, 2013 at 08:11 PM
Well said Steve. My wife and I both went to public schools in rural PA where the cost per student was a mere fraction of GV's. We both feel like we got great educations, and that was a huge start to our success now! Abraham you are not alone, there are others that don't mind paying more taxes. I would urge you and the other's out there with disposable incomes to voluntarily donate more money to the public school system.
Abraham January 22, 2013 at 09:14 PM
I too went to rural public schools early on where the cost of an education was far less and got a great start. But, that was many years ago and the point is vastly irrelevant. The fact is we live one of the 25 most expensive counties in the country. Everything cost more in Chester County. The changes in the SAT scores at GVSD had nothing to do with the Chambers Gang. SAT scores have everything to do with the educational level of parents and family income level. You can do the research yourself. Start at the College Board website. The richest districts with the most highly educated parent do the best. It’s pretty simple. The fact is more and more parents are sending their kids to outside SAT prep courses. That's where the improvements come from. Giving any credit to Bruce “the Quitter" Chambers is a pile of you-know-what. A school board doesn’t do much of anything to affect SAT scores – especially in less than a single term.
Abraham January 22, 2013 at 09:15 PM
There is a very significant movement in this country on the part of conservatives to reduce many aspects of public education. Steve, many of us know that one of the board members you reference never attended public school and sends his kids to private school. For them (and Bruce), being on the board is (and was) all about reducing cost through eliminating staffing and programs. As for the taxpayers who are not getting increasing in their income, yes it’s a challenge. What I can’t understand is those taxpayers who stand up and complain about costs, but yet their kids had all the “bells and whistles” when they went through GVSD. A great public education is the foundation of a great American society.
Greg Nesspor January 23, 2013 at 09:39 AM
Abraham ... the largest portion of the school budget is salaries and benefits. The "community" that the teachers are members of have all seen their benefits changed radically in the past few years. Specifically health insurance. Higher copays, higher or new contributions toward premiums, the introduction of HMO plans with $3000 and $5000 family deductibles have become the norm. Budgets are about MONEY. One of the best ways to redirect more funding toward the education process is to reduce spending in other areas. One of the key areas would be to introduce new benefit plans for the employees including the teachers that are IN LINE with those that the taxpayers have and in the bargain SAVE money. No one including myself is happy or cheering these developments in employer benefits nonetheless they are reality. It's time our public sector workers, teachers, school district employees join us in this reality and in the bargain re allocate funding toward the education process. Which, after all, IS the purpose of the public school system. Changing up the health insurance to a commensurate plan to which we all have from the gold plated plan currently enjoyed by the school district employees would save at least $500 per month per employee. And before all the "tea party" comments start flying, let me inform you I am a blue collar UNION worker of some 35 years ... longer than many of our district employees have been alive, let alone employed.
Jared January 23, 2013 at 12:50 PM
So how did they vote???
Abraham January 23, 2013 at 01:26 PM
Greg, I think we all realize that personnel costs make up a significant majority of any school district's budget. You may be surprised to learn that I totally agree with your point about the need to increase the employee contribution towards health benefits. In fact, all of the teachers in know (in GVSD and other districts) expect their portion of healthcare expenses to increase significantly when new contracts are negotiated. Of course, this predicament is just one reason the USA needs to move to a single payer health insurance system. I am not advocating government-controlled hospitals or government-employed doctors, but moving to a government administered health insurance program – “Medicare/Medicaid for All” – we could save billions of dollars each year. Most private health insurance companies dedicate upwards of 15% to 20% of their revenues to administrative costs, marketing and profit. The administrative cost of Medicare and Medicaid is about 4%. The GDP of the USA was a little more than $15 trillion in 2011 and healthcare costs accounted for about 16% of than total. That means we spent about $2.4 trillion on healthcare. Now reduce that number by about 13% or so by moving to a single payer system. The result is more than $300 billion in annual savings. I’m not sure what the district spends on health insurance, but I’m guessing it’s a fairly big number. Apply the 13% or so to that number, or the health insurance cost of any business.
Greg Nesspor January 23, 2013 at 06:18 PM
Abraham, First off I am not interested in a national debate over healthcare. I am only interested in discussing the GVSD benefit package as it pertains to costs moving into negotiations. That being said I am not interested in a token $10 or $15 weekly contribution toward their healthcare which will be what is presented as a "huge sacrifice" if the past practices of this board and union are any indication. I don't blame the union, as a steward currently in our bargaining unit I am well aware of our standard rhetoric and tactics. It's what we do. Nor am I interested in the current plan being "revamped" to have a $5 copay increase to a $10 copay for an example. These are all penny ante symbolic measures designed to soothe an agitated taxpayer base. Not when I guarantee you that the current plan is facing a minimum 20% premium increase paid by us. (If what our's went up is any indication) I am interested in seeing SIGNIFICANT savings which will only be realized by changing to an HMO/deductible plan. I am interested in saving teacher's jobs and in fact adding more staff. Revamping the entire benefit package to bring it in line with the community's will provide the funding for this without additional taxes. All of us have had to re-budget over the past few years and shift household money to healthcare be it towards higher weekly contributions or deductibles. It is time others join us in the "community" and "enjoy" the same sacrifices we are making.
Steve January 23, 2013 at 08:39 PM
Greg, you are completely on target. Some people don't want to make sacrifices, though, and want to paint those who ask for a reasonable budget as being anti-education and/or anti-child. It is time that government behaves like everyone else and recognizes that resources are limited and public employees must be subject to the same real-world issues as everyone else.
Greg Nesspor January 24, 2013 at 12:13 AM
Steve, I LOVE our teachers. Couldn't ask for better, frankly. I am interested in saving their jobs and in fact adding MORE educational staff to bolster the learning process. The way to do that is to lower the cost of the positions. Health care costs are a huge part of that cost. Yes, it is hard to shift costs to the "employee". Yes, the union is going to paint it as an "attack" on education. Nothing could be farther from the facts. Folks need to separate the issues in their minds and deal with them individually. I will defend our teachers' prowess, professionalism, dedication and care for the students to the end. I will not defend the costs of the compensation package IN COMPARISON to those of us paying the tab. It is really simple. Folks need to look past the union rhetoric and straw man talking points. (Ones I've know oh so well since the 1970s). They don't apply anymore.
Abraham January 24, 2013 at 12:30 AM
Pete posted the results in a separate article a little while ago. They voted 6-2 to keep the exceptions as a possibility. A prudent move. Ravenfeld and Leisenring voting against with Foret absent (although he surely would have voted against the resolution as well).

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