Avon Grove School Board approves opt-out resolution
By Steven Hoffman
The Avon Grove School Board concluded a busy 2019 with two meetings in December—the first a reorganization meeting and the second a regular meeting where the school board handled a relatively light agenda.
At the reorganization meeting on Dec. 2, the school board officially welcomed the newly elected members and selected a new president and vice president.
Magisterial District Judge Matthew Seavey administered the oath of office to the five people who won seats on the board in the November election—Jeff Billig, Herman Engel, Tracy Lisi, Bonnie Wolff, and Dorothy Linn. This is Linn’s first term on the board, while Wolff, Lisi, Engel, and Billig are all returning to the board. Once they were sworn in, the newly elected members joined the holdover board members: John Auerbach, Richard Dumont, Lynn Weber, and Bill Wood.
The first duty of the newly configured board was to select a new president. Wood, who served as board vice president in 2019, was nominated for the top leadership position. There were no other nominations and he was unanimously approved as the board president for 2020. Billig was then nominated for vice president. He, too, was approved by a unanimous vote.
The school board approved the list of meeting dates and times for the next year. The regular meetings will continue to take place on the fourth Thursday of the month at 6:30 p.m.
With the current school year reaching its approximate midpoint, district officials are already hard at work preparing a budget for 2020-2021. The school board took its next step in the budgeting process by approving an accelerated opt-out resolution at the meeting on Dec. 12.
This action obligates the school district to stay within the Act 1 Index limit when the budget for the next fiscal year is adopted and the tax rate is set.
The opt-out resolution also clears the way for the school district to move forward with a normal budgeting process, rather than seeking approval from voters for a tax increase that would exceed the Act 1 Index limit via a referendum.
In other business at the meeting, the school board approved a roadway surveying proposal from Terraform Engineering to do the additional surveys that are required so that the school district can obtain a Highway Occupancy Permit for the new high school project.
The school board approved the appointment of Sean Burns, a principal in the district, to serve as the next director of pupil services. This was one of several personnel items on the agenda.
Avon Grove superintendent Dr. Christopher Marchese congratulated Burns on the appointment and thanked Jeremy Curtis for his work in the role as director of pupil services over the last four-plus years. Marchese presented Curtis with a plaque and wished him luck in his new position as the assistant to the superintendent in the Chichester School District.
In his report to the school board, Marchese noted that the school district enrollment now stands at 5,067 students.
The superintendent also offered a brief update about the high school project, noting that the district’s Integration Committee is continuing its work to prepare a facilities integration plan. District officials are also working on moving the high school project through the land-development process. There have been regular meetings with Penn Township officials. Marchese said that the district is looking forward to having the high school project enter the bidding stage. This should take place at some point in the early part of 2020.
The Avon Grove School Board will meet again on Thursday, Jan. 23, 2020 at 6:30 p.m. at the Avon Grove Intermediate School audion. A committee-of-the-whole meeting regarding the planning and construction of the new high school will take place on Thursday, Jan. 9, 2020. That meeting is also at 6:30 p.m.