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U-CF approves final budget for upcoming school year

06/20/2017 10:08AM ● Published by J. Chambless

By John Chambless
Staff Writer

The Unionville-Chadds Ford School Board put their final stamp of approval on a budget for the upcoming school year at their meeting on June 19.

The budget, passed by a vote of 7-1, calls for revenues of $84,918,161 and expenditures of $84,932,572. The real estate tax will be 28.41 mills per dollar (or $2.841 per $100 of assessment) on the assessed value of taxable real property in Chester County, and 23.63 mills per dollar (or $2.363 per $100 of assessment) on property in Delaware County.

In remarks before the vote, board member Gregg Lindner commented, “I've said a couple of times that I have full agreement with what the learning plan is for the year, but the concern I had is the reserves, which have shrunk quite a bit. I've been on the board for six years. I've voted for four budgets to make sure that we added to the reserves. In order to fund the next five years, it's going to require tax rates that may be somewhat modest, but they will be beyond what we voted in favor of for much of the past decade. The chances of this board voting in favor of that are nonexistent. So my concern is that over the next couple of years, either we're going to have to reduce the plans that we have for building maintenance, for instance, or we're going to have to cut things, and we've been through that back in the 2009 time frame.

“I made a proposal to add $100,000 to the tax rate, which would have taken the rate up to about 2.35 percent, which would still be under the Act 1 Index,” Lindner added. “I'm going to vote 'no' on the 2.16 percent budget. But I want everyone to understand that I agree with the spending plan.”

Board member Jeff Hellrung, who presided over the meeting in the absence of board president Victor Dupuis, said, “The board, every year, is trying to fund the program, both short-term and long-term. When I look at the five-year projections, I think we're very likely going to be able to fund the program. We have adequate insurance and reserve funds. I could be wrong.

“However, I'd like to thank Mr. Lindner for raising this,” Hellrung added. “We're all looking at the same data and coming to different conclusions. I'm for raising taxes in order to fund our programs, short-term and long-term, and not a penny more. In my opinion, this proposed budget works for us.”

At the beginning of the meeting, district superintendent John Sanville introduced Michael Audevard, who will be the new principal at Hillendale Elementary School for the coming school year, at a salary of $130,000.

The board voted unanimously for Audevard, a former district teacher, who afterward thanked the board and administration. “My time in the Unionville-Chadds Ford District as a teacher was fantastic, and I think back to this time two years ago, when I took an opportunity in the Garnet Valley School District to enter the administrative side of the world,” Audevard said. “I have loved my time there, but I am just so excited to be back. Hillendale is a fantastic community, and I look forward to working with you all to keep it all going.”

Hellrung added, “I was part of interview team for Mr. Audevard, and we had a pool of 70 or so applicants. He rose to the top and was impressive throughout. We already know what an outstanding job he did as a Chadds Ford Elementary teacher, and I told him tonight that I think he's going to be a supernova here in his new role. We're so thrilled to have him.”

The board also voted unanimously to hire Patrick Crater as a district supervisor of athletics, at a salary of $110,000.

After his hiring, Crater told the board, “To be sitting here this evening, I have a lot of people to thank – my wife Julie, the Unionville-Chadds Ford Athletic Department, the school board and the administration. I believe a solid athletic program is built on the foundation of academic excellence and a strong competitive spirit. I'm coming to U-CF with a full tank of gas and some creative ideas, and I cannot wait to get started.”

A proposed ropes course for ninth-grade physical education classes was put forward for a vote. The contract with Phoenix Experiential Designs totals $10,600. A $5,000 grant from the Unionville-Chadds Ford Educational Foundation will be put in place to offset the cost to the district. Assistant superintendent John Nolen said, “The health and PE department is very excited about this low-elements course. If there were any drastic additions, which is not the case, that would be a whole different process of discussion and approval.”

The course will be installed in the woods near the high school. “We're not looking to drastically impact the woods in that area,” Nolen said. “We would have to have township approval for anything that would be of significant impact. We have no plans to add to it at this time.”

The course will not include any high-ropes elements, Nolen added. The board approved the proposal unanimously.

The board also approved a contract with ChescoNET to provide updated fiber connections from the district's elementary schools to the main data center at the high school, at a cost of $50,400 per year for the first five years, and $36,540 per year after five years. The current connections are outdated and cannot handle the load being proposed for the coming years. Board member Carolyn Daniels told the board that half of the money will ultimately be reimbursed to the district by ChescoNET.

For updated information, and a video of the current meeting, visit www.ucfsd.org.

To contact Staff Writer John Chambless, email jchambless@chestercounty.com.

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