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Chester County Press

Unionville-Chadds Ford School Board approves a $106.7 million preliminary budget

01/24/2024 01:48PM ● By Steven Hoffman

The Unionville-Chadds Ford School Board voted 7-0 to approve a $106.7 million preliminary budget for the 2024-2025 school year at the meeting on Jan. 16.

District officials will spend the next few months fine-tuning the spending plan before a final budget is adopted and the real estate tax rate is established. The school board is expected to adopt the final budget on June 17.

Overall, the school district’s expenditures are projected to be increasing by approximately 5.79 percent.

School board member Brian Schartz, the chair of the district’s Finance Committee, emphasized that the preliminary budget is just the first look at a spending plan, and it includes all spending levels that would be necessary to continue the current education and support programs based on the information available at this time.

In the coming months, some of the estimates will be replaced by actual numbers. For example, a major piece of the budgetary puzzle is the funding from the state. Unionville-Chadds Ford kept state revenues in the 2024-2025 preliminary budget at the same level that they are at for the current school year. When Gov. Josh Shapiro unveils his state budget early next month, it will likely include some increases in state funding, as well as funding for targeted initiatives.

The school district might also see some of the projected expenses come in under budget. There will be retirements that will result in projected savings, too.

As it stands now, in order for the school district to balance the preliminary budget, the proposed millage rate for Chester County residents would be 33.17 mills and the proposed millage rate for Delaware County residents would be 18.89 mills. That represents increases of 3.82 percent for Chester County and 12.98 percent for Delaware County, with a weighted average increase of 5.77 percent.

District officials emphasized that these are worst-case-scenario numbers, and Schartz said that they will continue to refine the budget in the coming months.

“We all know we have some work to do,” he said, explaining that there will be numerous developments that will help reduce the projected expenditures and minimize the tax increase.

The board approved the preliminary budget.

Also at the meeting, Dr. Steve Dissinger, the principal of Patton Middle School, shared a great experience that took place just days earlier. On Friday evening, Jan. 12, the school district opened the Unionville Elementary School gymnasium for a Patton Middle School wrestling match. This was part of the school district’s centennial celebration that is taking place throughout the school year.

Dissinger said that a large, enthusiastic crowd filled the historic gym. He said that the scene resembled one out of the classic sports movie Hoosiers. The Patton wrestling team wasn’t favored to win the match, but the large crowd cheered the team on to a 51-28 win.

“It was a very proud moment for our Patton Middle School grapplers,” Dissinger said.

The Unionville-Chadds Ford School District was also heartened to hear that the UCF Robotics Team advanced to the Pennsylvania FTC Championship. On Saturday, Dec. 16, the Green Lemons FTC Robotics team competed in the South Central Qualifier in York, Pa. The team ranked first entering the competition. They partnered with The Giant Diencephalic BrainSTEM from Baden, Pa. in the semifinals and finals. The alliance won both semi-finals and finals in the best-of-three format. There were 146 FTC Robotics teams registered in Pennsylvania this season, and the Green Lemons are one of the first two teams advancing to the Pennsylvania FTC Championship that will be held in Hellertown, Pa. in March.

The school district has a STEM night planned for 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. on Wednesday, Jan. 31. The event takes place at Unionville High School, and there will be STEM activities for all ages.

The school board’s next work session takes place on Monday, Feb. 12, and the next regular meeting will be held on Tuesday, Feb. 20.

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