The highlight of last night’s board meeting was the revelation that next year’s budget deficit has been whittled down from its original $15.6 million to just under $3 million. Superintendent Kadri is still optimistic we can get the budget down to the Act 1 limit of a 4.4% tax increase (without benefit of any exemptions). We’re not completely out of the woods yet regarding our budget woes; we continue to tap into our reserve fund to offset expenditures, and we still have what Kadri referred to as a “$7million structural deficit.” So unless certain cost issues are addressed, we will find ourselves in a similar situation when the 2009/2010 budget cycle begins. But for now the budget story is a good one, and Kadri and his entire cabinet deserve strong praise for their efforts. Thank you all!
The only negative news from last night was the concerns raised by students from the Neshaminy High School Swim Team regarding the air quality surrounding the Poquessing pool deck where they practice and compete. Nobody on the board seemed to be aware that the conditions were quite this bad, and it raised questions about health and safety issues. We have asked for district officials to examine this matter more closely and suggest options.
Here is the Courier Times’ report of last night’s meeting.
Other developments this week . . .
The Board Policies Committee continued its discussions of possibly forming a board-level personnel committee. This idea continues to draw criticism from some board and community members who are skeptical over giving more control of hiring decisions to the board. One alternative to another committee is to tweak the interview process to include board members and citizens along with administration. Hopefully all parties involved will see this as a reasonable compromise.
The Education Development Committee has agreed to pass along the recommendation to mandate PSSA proficiency as a graduation requirement. Next stop is the Board Policies Committee, who must prepare the measure for board approval. Other districts who have adopted this concept have seen some pretty dramatic improvements in the very first year, with scores jumping as much as 12%. But the plan isn’t as simple as mandating proficiency – there are a number of support elements and safety nets which are an integral part of the idea. There is still some work that must be done before this is ready for prime time.
I continue to be pleased and impressed with the increased attendance at meetings recently. The board room has been filled to capacity on numerous occasions, and we have seen many new faces including PTO parents, students, and other community activists. Several of these people have even attended board committee sessions recently, which further improved the effectiveness of those meetings. Despite all the challenges facing Neshaminy, there is reason for optimism with this kind of participation and support.
Keep up the good work everyone!