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Webb read a prepared statement that “all offers of salary increases to teachers for the 2008-2009 school year” were withdrawn.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.