NEW BETHLEHEM – Finances and safety were two points of discussion at Monday’s meeting of the Redbank Valley School Board.
Following up on information presented at the work session last week, the finance committee presented a five-year projection of expenses and revenues based on past and current trends to attempt to get an accurate financial picture of the district’s future.
“We’ve collectively put a great amount of effort into diving into the weeds and dissecting and taking a look at everything and anything in regards to the budget,” committee chairman Darren Bain said.
Bain also pointed out that while the 2018-2019 budget had a projected deficit of about $800,000, the revised amount was closer to $1.1 million.
“This includes expenditures for the track and security cameras that were not included in the original budget,” Bain said.
However, he said there was some good news.
“The [original] five-year scenario had an ending fund balance running out during the 2021-2022 school year, he explained. “The revised five-year scenario actually has an ending fund balance running out in 2022-2023 school year. That is one year past the original projection.”
Bain said that the revised projection is an accurate account of what is to come.
“2022-2023 looks like a year that could be challenging for the district,” he speculated. “We’ll have to increase taxes to the index every year without exception.”
Committee member Jason Barnett explained that the purpose of the committee and the projection was to validate the numbers.
“The revenue that you see on the five year projection represents basically everything we believe is in our power to do revenue-wise,” he said. “Expenditure-wise, if we do everything we have been doing we can’t sustain a 2.9 percent salary increase.”
Barnett continued by saying that this projection tool now allows the board and administration to run scenarios of how the budget changes in light of retirements, decreased health costs, or other expense changes.
“This is the beginning of the planning document,” he said. “We know that the top number (revenue) is fixed, but now we can see what we need to do to control the bottom number (expenses).”
“I think it’s a good tool to use,” Bain added of the new budget projection. “The committee has put a tremendous amount of work into this.”
In other business during the Dec. 3 meeting, board members approved the renewal of an agreement with the New Bethlehem Police Department to provide services for regulating traffic flow in front of the high school during dismissal for a half-hour at the end of each school day in a 7-2 vote.
According to board president Chad Shaffer following the meeting, the new agreement represents a change from last year’s freshman contract, which had officers stationed at the school during both morning arrival and afternoon dismissal times.
“The point [of having police presence] was to monitor pedestrian safety as well as the entry and exit of vehicles,” Shaffer noted. He explained that while student arrival typically staggers throughout the morning, that is not the case when the final bell rings at the end of the day. “Everyone [leaves] at the same time at the end of the day. That’s a much bigger issue.”
The cost to the district is $30 per hour for each day school is in session.
Board members Darren Bain and Dee Bell voted against the renewal, with Bain citing the lack of a back-up plan in the event that police officers were unable to be present.
• Prior to their regular meeting, board members held their reorganizational meeting for 2019. In unanimous votes, Chad Shaffer was reelected board president, and Bill Reddinger was reelected vice president.
• In her report, high school principal Amy Rupp announced that the district was awarded a $25,000 grant through the School Safety and Security program.
“We have those funds earmarked for the school police officers,” Rupp explained, noting that additional grant funding — which includes money for communications systems, safety cameras and other equipment — could be awarded in February.
• The resignation of head varsity football coach Edward Wasilowski effective Nov. 7 was accepted. Immediately following, the board voted to post for the position.
• After a motion to table the original motion to further investigate the implementation of a Naloxone/Narcan policy was defeated in a 5-4 vote, the original motion to consider such a policy failed in a 7-2 vote — with Shaffer and Bain casting the only yes votes.
Dissenting board members cited the inability of school staff to deal with the full affects of administering the drug.
• District financial director Cheryl Motter was appointed as the district’s Clarion County Tax Collection Committee Delegate for 2019.
• The board endorsed the Clarion County Economic Development Corporation (CCEDC) in its campaign to potentially have two USDA operations relocated to Clarion County from Washington, D.C.
• Brandon Bailey was hired as junior high assistant wrestling coach at a salary of $2,422.50.
• Doug Songer and Mitch Blose were approved as volunteer wrestling coaches; and Mary Margaret Semmler and Virginia Zimmerman were added to the substitute bus/van driver list.
• The schedule for board work sessions and meetings for the 2019 calendar year were approved.
• A mutual cooperation and coordination agreement between the district and Value Behavioral Health of Pennsylvania was also approved.