School Board Notes

March 2016

Budget Process Continues

The 2016-2017 budget update at was the major discussion item at the March 22, 2016 meeting of the Board of School Directors. Dr. Zerbe reviewed the status of the budget with the Board. While no action on the matter was taken, the board provided the administration with additional direction as they move toward approval of a proposed final budget in May.

Dr. Zerbe explained that once the total mandatory costs included in the expenditure side of the budget are subtracted, only 5% of the budget remains for the board and administration to review in an attempt to balance revenues with expenditures. This total, approximately $4.9 million, includes items such as student materials and texts that are needed for instruction. With reductions made to building budgets over the past four years, he explained that, "...there is little room left without becoming ineffective."

"Act 1 squeezes district resources and is unfriendly to the long term sustainability of programs and services as we know them without consideration of revenue increases to offset the mandatory costs that increase annually," Dr. Zerbe added.

The board was presented with three budgetary scenarios. Dr. Zerbe noted that not only will none of the scenarios satisfy all constituents, none address STEM or other highly recommended initiatives that are commensurate with the ongoing strategic planning of the district. Each makes assumptions associated with a potential debt restructuring, early retirement incentive for professional staff, and savings associated with the ongoing transportation services evaluation.

  • Scenario A: 3.68% tax increase - This scenario would have the board approve the maximum tax increase allowable under Act 1 (2.4%) plus the additional 1.28% tax increase associated with the PSERS exception. This would require the administration to close a remaining budget shortage estimated at $188,000.
  • Scenario B: 2.4% tax increase - This scenario would have the board approve the maximum tax increase allowable under Act 1 (2.4%). This would require the administration to bring forward program reductions and potential staff furloughs to close an estimated $1.7 million budget shortage.
  • Scenario C: No tax increase - Under this scenario, the board will approve a budget with no tax increase, requiring the administration to bring forward program reductions and potential staff furloughs to close the an estimated $2.6 million budget shortage.

"As the educational leader of the district, I have considered all that we must address and have considered the demands of our community and the need for us to maintain our level of excellence. I have considered the matter of a potential school consolidation, the pending tax appeals, future financial forecast, and the state budget issues. As such, I recommend scenario A for the 2016-2017 budget," Dr. Zerbe said.

Dr. Zerbe explained that should the Board direct him to focus on scenario B or C, or some combination of the two, he will review and recommend the curtailment or alternation of programs, putting forth the process under the law that allows for this action.

Dr. Zerbe noted that, "While I do expect some positives in the budget over the next several months, I do not have a way to address all of the remaining budgetary short with cuts in the remaining 5% percent of the non-mandatory budget areas." "In the meantime, I am working on contingencies, in the instance that some or all of the assumptions do not materialize, he added.

Members of the Board requested that Dr. Zerbe pursue several suggestions for reducing the budget gap, and an update on this progress is planned for the board's finance committee meeting, scheduled on Wednesday April 13, 2016 at 7:30 p.m. at the Farina Education Center. The 2016-2017 proposed final budget will be presented for Board approval during the regularly scheduled May 24, 2016 school board meeting. Final budget approval is scheduled for the regular June 28, 2016 meeting of the Board. Follow the budget progress online at

Agenda Review

With the assumption that threat of snow has passed, the board approved Superintendent Dr. David Zerbe's recommendation to hold commencement exercises for the Class of 2016 on Friday, June 10 at 4 p.m. This will be the firm date for graduation, with no rain date. Should rain threaten the high school's ability to host graduation outdoors in the stadium, the ceremony will be moved inside, and broadcast within the building and via the Lower Providence Community Access Channel. The last day of school for all students in grades K-11 is now scheduled for Monday, June 13.

During the Board's work session meeting on March 15, the district's financial advisers at PFM provided an overview of a proposed Bond restructuring. This restructuring will continue to be a topic of discussion at school board finance committee meetings.

Dr. Mary Katona, Director of Curriculum, Instruction, and Assessment, presented the board with a review of the recommended changes to the math curriculum resources to be used in grades K-4 and 7-8 beginning in the 2016-2017 school term. Recommended resources are Math in Focus for K – 4; Glencoe Course 2 for grade seven Pre-Algebra Part A, Glencoe Course 3 as the math resource for grade eight Algebra Bridges/ Algebra Bridges Co-Taught / Pre-Algebra Part B, and finally Glencoe Math Accelerated: A Pre-Algebra Program and Sadlier Common Core Progress as a combined resource for the grade seven Pre-Algebra Course.

These recommendations are on display for public review during through the month of April. More details on these proposed changes and the process for review can be found on the district's website.

The transportation scheduling consultant, Bob Schoch, was hired to conduct a thorough review of varied aspects of district's transportation services to identify areas where additional efficiency or cost savings could be realized. During his presentation to the board finance committee in March, Mr. Schoch proposed several improvements that could potentially result in more than $250,000 in savings in coming budget year.

The remainder of both the work session and regular meetings was dedicated to a review and discussion of progress on the budget.

All other items listed on the March 22 agenda were approved.

Superintendent's Updates

School Consolidation

The district released a request for proposal for a second enrollment study on March 14, 2016. An RFP was distributed to over 20 vendors that deal with enrollment projections and was posted along with a listing of these vendors to the district’s website.

The vendor responses are due by March 31, 2016. The sub-committee on enrollment has been engaged to assist with the review of submissions to determine the finalist to progress forward with the process, which is intended to conclude with a recommendation to the Board for the April 19 work session and a vote for the April 27 meeting.

Field Project Update

The Methacton High school field project has seen the auxiliary field and stadium field lights illuminated this past week as we work through the manufacturer's installation process of light "burn-in" prior to the township's testing.

The district continues to address matters on the two softball fields. While there are numerous issues with the varsity and jv softball fields, work is being conducted in a manner that allows athletes access while providing some temporary fixes. The athletic director and the director of facilities are working through some issues to ensure student athletes are taken care of while issues are worked out. In addition, most of the areas disturbed by the construction are being re-seeded by the general contractor at no cost to the district since their first pass was unacceptable.

Strategic Planning

The Methacton administration has been working on the strategic objectives and strategies associated with the goals as defined by the strategic planning committee. Work is being conducted in order to provide a finalized draft to the committee by April 7, 2016 so that a final product is ready for the next meeting of the committee of the whole on April 11, 2016. Methacton's Coordinator of School and Community Information, Angela Linch, is working with members of the administration on the document presentation and the implementation program associated with enculturation of the mission, vision, core values, and goals going forward. We are excited about our future!

In speaking about the strategic planning process, Dr. Zerbe suggested to the Board that it would best serve the administration's work if the framework around the strategic plan were to be utilized in discussing the board and superintendent's goals for the 2016-2017 school year. It was Dr. Zerbe's recommendation that he and the board establish goals cooperatively by the end of May 2016 for the following school term so that the administrative team can focus in June at their annual retreat to build off of those goals. He recommended that the discussion begin at the work session of the Board in April with an aim to finalize the board's and Superintendent's goals by May of each year. In the meantime, Dr. Zerbe forwarded to the board the current goals from the strategic plan as a starting point for their thinking.

March Junior School Board Directors

Big image
This month's Junior School Board Directors are Woodland fourth grade students Gwendolyn Cauffman and Kenny Barber. Gwendolyn opened the meeting and led the audience in the Pledge of Allegiance, while Kenny read an impassioned speech about what makes Woodland so special. Thanks to both families for coming out to the meeting and continuing this great new tradition!

Pictured above from left to right - Superintendent Dr. David Zerbe, Gwendolyn Cauffman, Kenny Barber, Woodland Principal Dr. Zanthia Reddish, and School Board President Chris Boardman.

March 15 School Board Work Session Meeting


March 22 School Board Meeting


Board Notes

The Methacton School District's Board of School Directors meets each month. School board work session meetings are generally held on the third Tuesday of the month, followed by the regular meeting on the fourth Tuesday (except during the month of December). Regular Board and work session meetings typically take place in the MHS LGI, and all residents are invited to attend. Committee meetings may take place in the Board Room at the Farina Center, or the MHS LGI. Meeting agendas are posted to agenda manager, and start times and locations are posted on the District's website. Please confirm meeting time and location before attending. Download the meeting calendar here. Watch the meeting video online.