Board to consider several major budget items

Board to consider several major budget items
Posted on 05/09/2021

Happy Mother’s day to all of you Moms.  Hope it has been a very special day!  Thank you for what you do every day for your family.  


While we are in the throes of numerous end of the year activities for students and schools, at the district level the School Board is in the middle of researching, reviewing and deciding upon several important issues that will shape our schools and the district’s financial health for years to come.  Thursday night, May 13th, at its next meeting, the Board will take the first of two votes on the 2021-22 Proposed Final Budget.  After four months of intense discussions, the Board has yet to decide if it will raise taxes next year, which it can do up to 3.5%. The maximum millage increase would bring in an estimated $2.4 million in additional revenue to next year’s $116 million budget.

 New programs and expenses the Board have under consideration with budget implications for 2021-22 and into the future are:

 Full Day Kindergarten:  The school district first introduced Full Day Kindergarten in two elementary schools in 2014-15.  Over the next three years, FDK was expanded to one class section in every elementary school.  With class sizes limited to 15 students, its purpose is to support students who are not developmentally ready for kindergarten.  With declining enrollment projected for at least the next five or more years, several empty classrooms in every elementary building after next school year, and the availability of excess teachers, FDK for all students could be phased in over the next four years with an additional $225k of additional costs spread over time. Or, FDK could be provided next school year for all students at an additional cost of five teachers, or approximately $500K.


Renovation of Quakertown Elementary School:  On February 11th, a community-based Redistricting Committee recommended to the School Board that it retain a five elementary school configuration and renovate Quakertown Elementary School.  Subsequently, the Board approved a study by D’Huy Engineering and the Schrader Group to assess the costs for a partial to full school renovation. QES was first built as a high school in 1929.  Today, it houses 287 elementary K-5 students.  It is still functioning with many of its original operational systems, such as one of its two boilers and the electrical system.  


The D’Huy study uncovered, as it expected, significant asbestos and lead paint abatement issues that would need to be addressed if renovations were to occur.  Abatement alone would take the first three months of an 18-month construction project.  While the emotional value of QES is priceless to the school district and our community, the Board has to decide whether it's the right time to make the $600k to $1M per year debt service commitment for the next 30 years.  Declining enrollment may become a factor in the Board’s decision.  In five years, after a QES renovation, the five Quakertown elementary schools will be at 66% capacity and 77% going down to four schools


Baseball Field Construction:  In 2014, during my first baseball season as superintendent in Quakertown, the varsity baseball field behind the QCHS was only playable for four days.  It was my first of several reminders that Quakertown was built on a swamp.  With the Board’s permission we started developing options for softball and baseball.  A 20-year partnership with RASA at Veterans Park took the quest for a permanent location for girls softball off the “to do” list.  When the Board decided to use the space behind the high school for what became the QNB Field Sports Complex that would support multiple sports teams, the Board reached an agreement with the Borough to use Memorial Park stadium.  It became the home field for Quakertown Panther Varsity Baseball.  After the Borough offered the district the opportunity to take over the complex and own the field, the Board approved a civil engineering and construction study for renovating Memorial Park.  Last year, right before the onset of the COVID pandemic, D’Huy Engineering reported the study’s findings.  We had serious flood plain issues.  The Board decided not to move forward with taking over Memorial Park.


A few months ago, the Board approved D’Huy Engineering to develop other options for building a new home for Quakertown Panther Varsity Baseball.  Last Wednesday, the Facilities Committee heard the presentation by D’Huy.  If the community is to have its own baseball field or stadium in the next two years, the decision would most likely occur over the next few months which would impact either the 2021-22 QCSD Budget and/or District Fund Balance.


Please take a look at the links and attachments for the QCSD ‘21-’22 Budget, the proposed projects and their impact on the budget over the next five years, and other material provided to the Board for its consideration.  If you have any questions, thoughts, or opinions, please share them with the Board prior to Thursday evening’s School Board meeting, Board@qcsd.org. They have important decisions to make between Thursday night and the Final QCSD Budget vote on June 10th.  Thank you. 


Again, Happy Mother’s Day!


Bill Harner

Superintendent, QCSD

wharner@qcsd.org

@BillHarner


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