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Avon Grove finalizes budget with no tax increase

06/19/2013 02:31PM, Published by ACL, Categories: News, Schools, In Print, Today

By Steven Hoffman

Staff Writer

The Avon Grove School Board finalized the 2013-14 budget on June 13, approving by a 5-2 margin a spending plan that will not require a tax increase for the coming year. The millage rate will remain at 26.75 mills.

Board president Bonnie Wolff, Dennis Gerber, Bruce Dobsch, Robert Weidenmuller, and Herman Engel voted for the budget. Donald Sites and Donald Needham opposed it. Needham said that he voted against it because of concerns that the district hadn’t sufficiently analyzed some capital-improvement projects that might be necessary, including some upgrades to improve the security of school buildings following a recently completed vulnerability assessment.

One reason that the board was able to approve a budget without a tax increase is the district’s strong balance sheet. The school board approved moving $10 million from the unreserved, undesignated fund balance into an account specifically designated for future use to offset increases in the amount of school district contributions to the Public School Employees Retirement System (PSERS). The district has been utilizing this money each year as its PSERS contribution continues to increase substantially.

Board member Robert Weidenmuller pointed out that Avon Grove is expected to end the current fiscal year with more money than expected, and he suggested that the board discuss how the additional money might be utilized.

“There have been a lot of programs that have been cut in the last few years, and a lot of new ideas that are coming in all the time,” Weidenmuller said.

Superintendent Dr. Gus Massaro told the board that there are two finalists for the assistant principal position at the high school that became available when James Connor submitted his resignation effective July 1. Connor also served as the athletic director for the high school.

Sites suggested that the administration might want to reevaluate whether they want to continue having an assistant principal at the high school continue to handle the duties of athletic director. Weidenmuller seemed to agree, pointing out that that position has had the highest turnover during the last eight years.

Massaro said that the administrative staff at the high school is very small for a school that size, but the current job assignments—including having an assistant principal serve as athletic director—are working.

“The administration does not recommend deviating from the current model,” Massaro said, noting that incidents where students receive referrals to go to the principal's office have declined under the current system.

Massaro also announced that after eighty-plus years of providing transportation services to the school district, Swish-Trans, Inc. a family-owned business, has requested to be let out of the contract one year early. George Krapf, Jr. and Sons, Inc. is stepping in to take over the job.

The Krapf company, which is family-owned, currently serves six school districts in Chester County. Krapf has been in business for more than 70 years.

“We focus on safe, reliable, and excellent transportation,” said Blake Krapf, the company’s CEO. “We’re excited about this opportunity.”

Krapf will rent the Swisher facilities in Avon Grove and buy the buses. They will be attempting to retain as many of the drivers as possible, too.

“Hopefully, on the first day of school, it will be the same drivers,” Krapf said.

The school board meeting for June 27 was canceled. The school board will meet again on Thursday, July 11.

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