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Chester County Press

School districts finalize budgets for 2017-2018

06/13/2017 01:55PM ● By J. Chambless

By Steven Hoffman
Staff Writer

During the last few months, the projected expenditures in the Kennett Consolidated School District (KCSD) budget for the 2017-2018 school year trended in the right direction—declining from the $84.5 million that was initially included in the preliminary budget that was approved in February to the $84.2 million that the school board authorized during the adoption of the final budget on June 12.

The budget was approved by a vote of 6 to 0.

That tax rate is increasing to 29.8789 mills. That's an increase of approximately 2.18 percent over the current year, according to the district's business administrator, Mark Tracy. For the average taxpayer in the district, the tax bill will increase by $116 per year as a result of the millage increase.

Tracy said that the spending plan was developed during a series of eight budget meetings of the district's Finance Committee, starting last fall.

School board president Kendra LaCosta said that district officials always work hard to limit the tax increases, and she believes that they did a good job of doing that this year, considering that the items that were driving expenditures up are beyond the school district's control.

The expenditures of $84.2 million amount to an increase of about $2.5 million over the current year. The biggest impact on the budget is once again the school district's state-mandated contribution to the Pennsylvania Public School Employees Retirement System (PSERS). The PSERS costs have been increasing dramatically for Pennsylvania schools during the last decade. For the 2017-2018 school year, PSERS costs are increasing by about 9 percent for KCSD. That amounts to a $948,000 increase from one year to the next.

Other items impacting the budget include the increased costs for students utilizing the wide variety of educational services offered by the Chester County Intermediate Unit, as well as tuition costs for students who are enrolled in charter schools.

School board member Rudy Alfonso said that the district is getting a good return on its investment because of the education that students receive. He explained that the students are well-prepared for college or to enter the workforce by the time they graduate from Kennett High School.

The school board also approved the creation of a new, 12-month position—the director of curriculum and math and science instruction—and a new school district organizational chart that includes this new position. Dr. Lydia Hallman was then appointed to fill the new position beginning on July 1.

Dr. Barry Tomasetti noted that at one time the district had an assistant superintendent position that specically handled curriculum and instruction. This new position will facilitate the writing of curriculum and the planning for staff development. The director of curriulum and math and science instruction will collaborate with department chairpersons and the administration.

Several school board members lauded Hallman's work in the district and said that she will be a good fit for the new position.

Judith Durante was appointed to serve as the supervisor of language arts and social studies. Durante earned a bachelor's degree in English and certification as a principal from Immaculata University, and a master's in curriculum and instruction specializing in language and literacy from the University of Delaware. She has been a Middle School English teacher in the district since 1988.

Durante was also praised by Tomasetti and several school board members.

With the start of a new fiscal year approaching, the school board's agenda also included a number of appointments and contract approvals.

The board approved a contract between the school district and Jane Pedroso for consulting and transitioning services at a rate of $99 per hour during the term of the agreement, which is July 1, 2017 to June 30, 2018. Pedroso will plan some of the district's summer school offerings, and will also help Durante transition into the new role as supervisor of language arts and social studies, a position that Pedroso previously held for the district.

For the last two years, the S4Teachers LLC (Source4Teachers) company has provided KCSD with daily substitutes for certificated and non-certificated staff members. The district is now approving a contract with S4Teachers LLC that will extend from July 1, 2017 through June 30, 2021.

The board also approved an amendment to the agreement with West Health Advocate Solutions, Inc. The company will prodvide Employee Assistance Program services to the district after taking over Human Management Services, Inc., the company that previously provided those services.

Business manager Mark Tracy was elected to continue to serve as the secretary of the school district for a four-year term ending on June 30, 2021. Board member Dominic Perigo was elected to serve as the assistant secretary of the district. That term also expires on June 30, 2021.

The district is extending its agreement of services with the YMCA of Greater Brandywine to utilize the YMCA's facilities for several different student activities. The agreement now extends through June 30, 2022.

The district retained the firm of Barbacane Thornton and Company, LLP, certified public accountants, to conduct the independent audit for the fiscal year ending on June 30, 2017. There are options for the fiscal years ending in June of 2018 and June of 2019 as well.

KCSD will continue providing extended bus transportation service to five local licensed child care centers, which will allow children attending these centers to be transported to their residential elementary school even though the child care center is located outside the attendance area. The licensed child care centers will reimburse the district for the actual costs of the extended bus service.

The Kennett School Board will meet again on Monday, July 10. The meeting will be held at the Mary D. Lang Kindergarten Center at 7 p.m.

To contact Staff Writer Steven Hoffman, email [email protected].