Avon Grove School Board approves accelerated opt-out resolution
● By Steven Hoffman
The Avon Grove School Board took the first official step toward adopting a budget for 2016-2017, approving an accelerated opt-out resolution at its meeting on Dec. 17.
By approving the opt-out resolution, the Avon Grove School Board is signifying that the district will remain within the Act 1 Index limit when it comes time to establish the tax rate for the next fiscal year.
School board member Patrick Walker said that the district’s Finance and Budget Committee recommended approving the accelerated opt-out resolution at its most recent meeting. Since 2006, when the state implemented an Act 1 Index limit that restricts how much a school district can raise the tax rate without seeking approval from residents through a referendum, districts are required to adopt an opt-out resolution to guarantee that they won’t exceed the limit. By doing so, districts work on a different timeline to approve the budget. For Avon Grove, the Act 1 Index limit for 2016-2017 is 3.2 percent.
The school board will get its first comprehensive look at the budget for 2016-2017 in January. Avon Grove, like school districts across Pennsylvania, still have much uncertainty about their spending plans because of the state budget impasse in Harrisburg. School districts haven’t received their subsidies from the state for the current school year, so projecting the state subsidies for the next fiscal year is even more difficult than usual.
Avon Grove’s own budget picture will be impacted by a looming decision on whether the district will implement a full-day kindergarten program. The Avon Grove administration is preparing two spending plans—one that will include the costs of funding for a full-day kindergarten program, and one that does not—for the school board to consider. If state lawmakers manage to adopt a spending plan for the fiscal year that is now six months old, a proposed state budget should be unveiled in March. Avon Grove's proposed final budget will be adopted in the spring, and a final budget must be approved before the deadline of June 30, 2016.
In his report, superintendent Dr. Christopher Marchese talked about the federal Every Student Succeeds Act that was recently signed into law as the United States' public education policy for K-12. The Every Student Succeeds Act, which replaces the unpopular No Child Left Behind law, shifts some of the federal accountability provisions back to the states' control. Marchese said that superintendents from across Chester County will soon meet with representatives from the state’s Department of Education to discuss how the new provisions will impact school districts.
Avon Grove will hold two meetings next month—a committee-of-the-whole meeting on Thursday, Jan. 14 at 6:30 p.m. and the regular meeting on Thursday, Jan. 28 at 7:30 p.m. Both meetings will take place at the Avon Grove Intermediate School.