By Steven Hoffman

Staff Writer

At the Jan. 9 Avon Grove School Board meeting, superintendent Dr. Christopher Marchese said that the business staff is diligently preparing the budget for the 2014-15 school year. When the preliminary spending plan is unveiled later this month, a group of district newcomers will be charged with making decisions as the budget is developed until it is adopted in June. Marchese, hired last August, is going through his first budget cycle as a superintendent. Loree M. Lonsinger’s promotion to the position of business manager is effective Jan. 18. And the November general election produced three new school board members—Brian Gaerity, Patrick Walker, and Ed Farina—who will be overseeing their first budget.

Last year, Avon Grove was able to balance a $76 million budget without a tax increase and was able to maintain a millage rate of 26.75 mills.

Marchese expressed the optimism that this new team feels at the start of a new calendar year.

“I am looking forward to the good work that we will do in 2014 for the students,” Marchese said.

In addition to the preparation of the budget, the board will be busy in 2014 negotiating a new teachers’ contract. Gaerity, the board president, said that preliminary work on negotiations has already begun.

In other business at the Jan. 9 meeting:

~ The school board approved the first reading of a policy that adjusts the amount at which purchases are subject to be put out to bid. The amount is increasing from $18,900 to $19,100, and the district is approving its own policy to comply with changes that the Pennsylvania Department of Education has notified the district about.

~ The school board also approved the assignment and transfer of the pupil transportation services contract between the estate of Robert O. DuVall, DuVall Bus Service, LLC, and the Avon Grove School District through June 30, 2014.

~ Marchese talked about the challenge that the cold, snowy weather has presented thus far, saying that making a decision about whether to open schools when inclement weather is predicted is one of the more difficult decisions that a superintendent must make.

“Now, I’ve had plenty of practice at it,” Marchese joked, “so I feel pretty confident about it.”

He said that the staff and students have handled the disruptions to the schedule well so far.

The superintendent said that Avon Grove will be updating its website with information about snow day make-ups.

He also lauded the work of the custodial maintenance staff for helping the district get through the series of snowstorms that have hit the area.

Marchese and Gaerity also both thanked Roger Brubaker for his work while serving as the district’s interim business manager. Brubaker stepped in on Nov. 1 and oversaw the business department’s operations while the district conducted the search for a new business manager.

The Avon Grove School Board will meet again on Thursday, Jan. 23.