Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Fees in, foreign language out?

A quick but important update of last night’s meeting:

A dozen or so people pleaded with the Board not to cut 8th grade foreign language from next year’s budget. Some said that it would limit the academic reach of our brightest students, and others suggested we actually expand our foreign language classes into 6th and 7th grade. A couple of speakers also commented that the Board should dump the idea of participation fees for extracurricular activities.

Later in the evening Board Prez Rich Webb read a prepared statement that “all offers of salary increases to teachers for the 2008-2009 school year” were withdrawn. This reinforced the Board’s stand that there would be no retro pay when an agreement is reached.

The other major development last night was approval of the 2009-2010 Proposed Final Budget. In accordance with the PA School Code, districts must pass a “proposed final” budget at least 30 days in advance of voting on the “final” budget. That vote will occur at our June 16th meeting.

A few thoughts about the meeting . . .

The school board very much wants to put 8th grade language back into the budget as well as scuttle the notion of a participation fee for extracurricular activities. The challenge is coming up with other cost reduction measures or income generation so we can offset the increase to next year’s budget. So far Mr. Paradise and Dr. Muenker have trimmed about $10 million off the budget and it is extremely difficult to find additional opportunities. They are still looking, but we are running out of time.

Regarding Mr. Webb’s announcement, that should not be interpreted as an in-your-face smackdown against the NFT. All of us on the Board hope that contract negotiations can continue, but we are remaining firm to our commitment against retroactivity of salary. Since we are now in the home stretch of the budgeting process for next year, it was the appropriate time to announce that we were capping off our financial exposure.

The next Board meeting is Tuesday, June 2nd, at 7pm. This will be the last Board meeting before we vote for the final budget on June 16th.

For more information on last night’s meeting, you can read the Courier Times’ articles on possible elimination of 8th Grade foreign language and an update on the teacher contract.



amazed said...

Wow, it's been a week and not one response to language being cut. I guess no one really cares about this issue.

JS said...

I think it's more that there is only so much "howling at the moon" that one can do before it seems to become futile.

I wonder how all of the eliminated positions will feel about their wonderful "union" after this all goes through.

Gabriel said...

Isn't this the kind of thing William always says is a problem with parents. They get involved with school board issues to a point but then walk away. However those who would cut a budget no matter the impact to students never walk away. They storm the board meetings every week, they write more letters to the newspaper, and they vote regularly.

I fear how tomorrow's election will turn out. The cost-oriented voters will come out to support the candidates who promise to cut taxes. The education-oriented voters will stay home assuming their vote will be worthless. Not so ironic that if you think of your vote that way, that's exactly the way it turns out to be: Worthless.

JS said...

I wish I could just find information about who is running for what tomorrow. To be honest I doubt many people even know tomorrow is an "election" day.

William O'Connor said...

JS, tomorrow's primary election is for School boards, municipal appointments and judges. You can see a complete list of all candidates across the state by going to

The municipal elections are strictly party primaries while school boards and some of the judge positions can cross-file in both parties. So even in these primaries, your vote can actually play a role in who serves.

JS said...

Now here is my question, maybe someone will know.

Though involved with Neshaminy for many years, this will be the first full year voting here.

My wife and I are registered "independent". Does that mean we don't even get to vote for School Board since candidates are only cross registered Dem/Rep?

Again, I've been a bad voter not involved with primaries before, but now it looks like I might not be able to at all.

William O'Connor said...

Sorry JS, but Pennsy does not allow independent voters to participate in primary elections unless there is a referendum vote.

JS said...

Yeah, just figured that out.

I wonder if anyone else finds it slightly illegal to keep eligible voters from electing (not choosing candidates for future elections with the primary, but actually electing) people just because they choose not to be a registered Dem or Rep.

Seems to be Voter discrimination to me.

JS said...

Definitely needed to get some sleep last night. Completely read the explanation of the primary procedures concerning School Board/Judges/Tax Collector/etc wrong. Disregard my previous rant. Nothing to see here.

Another question. Are there Board members who are not running for re-elction? I would assume so since there are 4 seats up for grabs and only Ms. Boyle and Dr. Spitz are part of the primary. Then again my whole reasoning process has been a bit off the past day or so.

KClarinet said...

OK, I voted earlier today and found that one of the school board candidates who I was very sure was being backed specifically by the Republican Committee (he is included in all the literature I've received from the Middletown Township Republican Committee and on their website) had cross-filed and running on the Democratic side as well. I've never really understood the mechanics involved in cross-filing, and I suspect I'm not alone. Mr. O'Connor, perhaps this is a "teachable moment" for you to explain exactly what is going on when candidates run in both parties' primaries.

Thanks in advance for any help.