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Board Approves New Elementary Schedule and Larger Tax Increase

All three elementary schools will start at 8:45 a.m. and dismiss at 3:30 p.m., aided by the purchase of four additional buses. A half-mill tax increase to the 2012-2013 budget will help pay for the vehicle purchases and operation expenses.

Monday's special school board meeting ended with a set schedule for the elementary schools and a slightly larger tax increase for the 2012-2013 budget.

As adopted in the new resolution, , and Davis Elementary will all begin the school day at 8:45 a.m. and end at 3:30 p.m. The district will purchase four new buses and retain five, adding a total of nine vehicles to the fleet to assist with transporting the elementary students. The directors also mandated that no elementary student spend more than 40 minutes on the bus.

In order to pay for the purchase of the new buses and their operating expenses, including drivers, a mechanic, projected parts for repair and the cost of adding security measures to a parking lot that the district will use to store the surplus vehicles, a .56 mill increase has been added to the Act 1 index raise in the , for a total tax of 116.07 mills, or 2.49 percent. In dollars, the additional increase averages to about $14.78 more for taxpayers, for a grand total average increase of approximately $65. A mill equals a dollar tax on every $1,000 of assessed property value.

The extra half-mill will help fund the ongoing operating costs for the buses. The district will also receive social security reimbursements and transportation subsidies from the state.

The approximate $325,000 one-time cost for the purchase of the vehicles will will come from the district's reserve funds. The move basically moves up the district's vehicle purchase schedule, meaning that the cost will be offset by the fact that no major vehicle purchases will be made next year, according to Centennial Business Administrator Chris Berdnik. 

School director Jane Schrader Lynch marveled that the administration was able to come up with a possible solution during a 30 minute recess, something the ad hoc committee to do in two weeks. The reason the ad hoc committee could not reach a similar solution, she said, is because it was held back by a stricter guideline to keep the options budget neutral.

"This is a disgrace," she said. "After all these meetings and spending long hours trying to produce something, we have an impasse tonight and we get a solution in 30 minutes."

With the 5-4 vote, the school board set the parameters for the elementary schedule and gave transportation director Wayne Robinson the summer to figure out a plan. As it stands, with the additional busing for students at and , Robinson said that some students may take 60 minutes to ride the bus home.

Berdnik stated that it would take about six months to bid out and purchase the buses and that the district can rent buses until the new vehicles are added to the fleet. The district also has to find drivers willing to work part time, since the buses will only be used for the elementary routes.

The compromise seemed agreeable to most of the parents in the audience, who took turns explaining to the school directors that the 3:45 p.m. dismissal time would dramatically alter their home lives. There were a few, however, who disagreed with the proposal, especially since there was no guarantee that some children would not have bus rides of more than 45 minutes.

"It would be irresponsile and shortsighted to spend more money just to save 15 minutes," said Emily Cohen, who participated in the ad hoc committee. "I am in full support of the staggered schedule. I do have children that would be impacted by it, and I think everyone can adjust."

Director David Shafter said the guarantee comes from the school board's resolution that no child spend more than 40 minutes on the bus. It's up to the transportation department to find a way to make it work, he said.

Warminster Dad June 20, 2012 at 02:58 PM
Remember the board only stated a 40 minute bus ride, THAT DOES NOT INCLUDE THE TIME SPENT WAITING FOR THE BUS TO PICK THEM UP. It only counts from when the bus leaves the school. We could still have children waiting for the bus for up to 40 minutes like at Willow Dale this year. The staggered bell time was supposed to eliminate that.
dr.qsmart@gmail.com June 20, 2012 at 03:05 PM
Warminster Dad, tell me where the savings from the consoldation of 6 schools to 3 schools is?? Tell me where the savings from laying off teachers is?? Tell me where the new teachers' contract saving is? Since you claim to know about budgets, please let us know, we will be listening! Do you know Huf, Hartline, Lynch, Driban voted against increasing your taxes and keeping children on buses for extending periods of time.
V T S June 20, 2012 at 04:56 PM
Let me start by saying this is my opinion and impression. I’m not saying anyone is wrong or that I am right. I’m simply sharing. I’ve been following this school district for most of this past school year – fairly closely at times, other times not so much, but mostly when it benefited me the most. My son started kindergarten this year at McDonald-Davis. He will be at Nativity next year. Now that the school year is over, I feel compelled to share my thoughts. Growing up in Northeast Philadelphia, I went to catholic school mainly to escape public school. I used to hear how great public schools in the suburbs were and my parents only wished they could afford to make that sort of move. Needless to say, while this particular suburban public school (CSD) doesn’t have nearly the level of problems Philadelphia has, I was hardly overwhelmed in any positive way. There are so many things inherently wrong with public schools in general. They are, in fact, an extension of government, and therefore an extension of politics. When was the last time you trusted politics to deliver? They may say what you want to hear, but the “precious education of our youth” is nothing more than the same carrot politicians use when they talk about “our American Dream.” <continued>
V T S June 20, 2012 at 04:58 PM
Problem #3: The board. What is their motivation, really? I think some actually believe in educating children, but most are having fun playing with CSD Taxpayer Money. Ever do the math? Tax dollar revenue divided by student headcount should give you effective rate of tuition per child. Want to know that per annum dollar amount? If you just look at total real estate tax revenue (57.5 million / 6,200 students), the tuition would be $9,290 per student. If you look at all local revenue (63.5 million / 6,200 students), the tuition would be $10,245 per student. These examples ignore the revenue brought in by the state and federal sources which is an additional $2,865 per student. The beauty of the system is none of us pay that much. The utter failure of the system is none of us are getting an education equal to what those dollars would provide in the private sector. How is it we don’t see a better product? In my opinion, it’s the lack of accountability. Private schools can go out of business. Public schools cannot.
V T S June 20, 2012 at 04:59 PM
Problem #2: A principle who would rather get through the year and see a bad teacher off to Davis next year (sorry Davis) then deal with what it would take to get her to change her ways or remove her. A principle who said what needed to be said at the time, but never intended to follow up or follow through. A principle who runs a school where the children are not taught to respect one another or property. Perhaps this comes from my catholic school up-bringing, but I actually think, regardless of faith, respect of others and property is decent common moral value for all to share. Principle did not care about her school a way a principle should and the children reflect that sentiment. <continued>
V T S June 20, 2012 at 04:59 PM
Problem #1: My son had a teacher, fully tenured, making a 6 figure salary and bounces from school-to-school, grade-to-grade because she is a horrible teacher who cannot be fired. I’d love to be working full time at 45 years of age, making 6 figures and guaranteed my job until I do retire with my sweet pension waiting for me all while not having to care or try to be a good teacher. I could write an entire novella of what is wrong with this teacher. I’m all for unions. They have a place, but without checks and balances, they abuse their power as much as the next guy. The teacher unions are doing to public schools what unions did to the US automobile industry. <continued>
Warminster Dad June 20, 2012 at 05:40 PM
I did not want consolidation, but we got it. Less teachers=savings, Less custodial=savings, less maintenance=savings, Less administration=savings. Now we try to save to not cost taxpayers more, but the parents who think equal means start time the same for all, have no clue about fairness. Waiting for 30 minutes to get on the bus for another 40 is no good. but hey we all start at the same time. Some parents could have actually saved money with the staggered start because they wouldn't have to pay after care, (I don't, but I think of the district as a whole.) How many times during the meeting did the board claim to Help the Willow Dale Parents, What about the other 5 schools. IT IS DONE, IT IS OVER, IT HAS BEEN DECIDED. Now we just have to pay more taxes because a few (>10%) complained. Other people just tried to make it work because they understand that when you only have this much money, you spend that much more or else more things have to go. I feel sorry for Dr. Cressman. Remember how much you are paying for buses when good teachers don't have a job. They are kept by seniority, not ability.
Warminster Dad June 20, 2012 at 05:42 PM
**Can't spend that much more.** Sorry
concerned citizen June 20, 2012 at 08:44 PM
Daniella, because she wrote a letter to Dr. Pollack stating how much she was for the staggered bell schedule, how the board was doing a wonderful job and how wrong all the parents were for whining. Dr. Pollack formed this committee knowing it would never have a chance and he made sure to add wonderful Emily to it. She has no clue what's going on in this district. I love her comments about "how parents complained about the bus consolidation so Mr. Miller just made the bus consolidation disappear!" Well, I don't know if her kids take the bus, but mine and alot more do and our bus stops were consolidated. Mr. Robinson said oh well, deal with it when some parents complained that it was to far for a small child to walk. Especially uphill during the winter. Notice how she hasn't responded since someone put her in her place. I love her comment about how she tries to comment: (I copied & pasted this from her ealier comment) "I strive to always speak and comment with logic, without resorting to personal attacks." After this comment, she proceded to bash Mr. Miller, then some board members, the parents, and then Mr. Miller, again. She's always bashing someone on here. Hopefully she goes away.
Daniella June 20, 2012 at 09:07 PM
Wow- it gets worse and worse the more you find out. I always thought the committee was doomed for failure but I didn't know that it was being undermined from within, right from the beginning! And yes, my bus stop was also consolidated and nobody cared, so I dont know what that comment meant either.
Leann G. Russell June 20, 2012 at 09:17 PM
I would like to take this time to remind everyone that when the decision to reduce schools from six to three the administration was informed by Mr. Robinson that we would need to purchase more buses and that we would need to replace some of the older buses that are smaller with larger buses. I remember this meeting as if it was yesterday, even though it was over three years ago. We were told that we would save money from this reduction since we would be closing school and reducing our operational cost of these schools. Well, Davis closed two years ago, and Leary closed one year ago and now Longstreth has closed. Where is the savings? What happened to it? New Bus Drivers would be paid out of Operational money. The board has also been offered over 400,000 for each of the four school buildings that are closed. What will happen to that money? Why not use it to purchase the buses needed. Since the start of all of this, we the public have been given false information. Three years ago, the board was told that we needed the buses and as usual they did nothing about it. There is a chance that we may not have the new buses that we need in time for the start of the new school year. This board has always been behind the eight ball when it comes to planning- always changing but never planning for anything. Get it together! Order the buses now! Your procrastination is going to put this district is a terrible position come September.
Warminster Family June 20, 2012 at 11:34 PM
Dear Lauren, even though having the committee made up of all opinions across the board may seem fair, its not when the adhoc committee is disproportionately represented. Another words, Emily had to much say for someone representing the minority opinion. Dear VTS, just like any workplace in this world 10% percent of the people cause 90% of the problems. So there may be some less than stellar teachers out there, but 90% of the ones I have met are exceptional. In case you have been living in cave there has been plenty of negative news about the Catholic Schools (priests) out there. Dear Warminster Dad, They were cutting the teachers anyway with the consolidation. It’s not like we traded teachers for drivers. People were upset about the late start times. We couldn’t get the teachers back, but who wants to add insult to injury with the late start times. Our taxes are still cheaper than most. Maybe if the Anne's Choice Residents would "Annie Up" and pay it would even be cheaper. I also watched the meeting on TV. I applaud Jane Lynch for standing up to the rest of them. Jane Rocks!!!
Daniella June 21, 2012 at 01:57 AM
As far as I can tell, at least based on Mr. Miller's correspondence as the Chair of the committee, the guidelines for the Ad Hoc committee, from the start, were to find a better solution than the 9-3:45pm one. It was not to debate the 3:45 option, so any time spent on that was taking the committe away from its central purpose. That doesn't mean that the committee had to all share one opinion, but those were the guidelines stated.
LMJ June 21, 2012 at 02:21 AM
Daniella- who is to say that the 9-345 wasn't the best solution for the community as a whole? Just because it works for a select few does not mean that the majority benefits. I understand you all take the survey results as a true testament to how the majority feels but unfortunately that study didn't capture the general population.
Daniella June 21, 2012 at 02:39 AM
Whether 9-3:45 was ultimately the best solution or not is irrelevant to the guidelines that were set for the Ad Hoc Committee. And as for the survey not reflecting what the general population wanted, thats pure conjecture. The survey might not be scientific but at my regular job, I work with surveys and while response rates are relevant, we work with the results we get, we dont try to extrapolate as to what the non-respondents might be thinking. Of course, at this point, its all a moot point. We're stuck with the solution we're stuck with, one that really wasn't a win for anyone.
StopTheInsanity June 21, 2012 at 10:35 AM
Does anyone find it ironic that the three loudest protestors of the staggered school times (Lynch, Huf, Miller) are all on the Education Committee that approved the staggered start times by a vote of 3-0 back in April? The only concern at that time was getting the schedules out early to allow parents time to adjust, not the actual school times. How do you go from unanimous approval to the theatrics we witnessed Monday evening from these three members? Another interesting point about Monday's circus - Mr. Miller was clearly incensed that Administration did not use some consultant to optimize the bus routes, he made a point of saying that Dr. Cressman authorized a consultant to come in for one day and optimize the routes, but that the consultant was not brought in and that is why the committee failed. But if you check the district website, Mr. Miller clearly states on June 6th that "1) We have acquired, and are installing new software today, that will allow us to optimize our bus routes in house more quickly and for considerably less money than we would pay on the outside. This also permits greater control on variables. This resolves one of the early problems we encountered in collecting data and extrapolating results." So, how can you complain at the Board meeting that a consultant was not used when less than 2 weeks earlier, you were boasting that you are able to optimize the bus routes with the new software and save the district money? It makes no sense at all!!
concerned123 June 21, 2012 at 12:28 PM
Lynch flip flops all the time. She was in support of a new unfunded teachers contract when the business mananger stood up and stated projected debt figures. And now she votes agaisnst tax increases to make herself look good. She is Clueless like most of the other board members. They have all forgotten their orth of financial responsiblity they took when they were elected. Unless there is a major change, this disctrict will become the new Neshaminy
Tax payer June 21, 2012 at 03:26 PM
Ann's Choice is a retirement community and by definition they are not obligated by Tax Code to pay school tax. They do however, ALOT of fundraising for CSD---So be careful with what you say---you could cause more revenue loss to the school district. Parents need to STEP UP and run for a spot on the School Board if you truely feel that your ideas are the best for EVERY tax payer in this school district. Then you will see exactly how difficult it is to deal with the parents that want what they want and when they want it without consideration for anyone elses (the community) needs. You can deal with the "monday mornning quarter backing" - having someone else second quess you every decision. Instead of ranting about not getting your way, how about you teach your children to adapt to changes that have been made. Let your children know that they are not always going to get their way when it comes to the real world. Life is tough and instead of teaching coping skills to your kids you are teaching them to be disrepectful to anyone who thinks differently then them. Parents--- GROW UP, no one won in this district. Compromises happen all the time -DEAL with it.
LMJ June 21, 2012 at 03:39 PM
Thank you Tax Payer! That is what I have been saying all along. Prepare to be attacked...
concerned citizen June 21, 2012 at 09:07 PM
The 9-3:45 only worked for the McDonald students & the walkers (minority) of the other 2 schools. NOT the bus riders of Davis & Willowdale. The general population who don't have a child in school, didn't vote because they could care less what time our children get out. So get off it.
Ante Up June 21, 2012 at 11:16 PM
Dear Taxpayer, Retirement Communities are not immune from property taxes. However Ann's Choice did have some sort of agreement with a ten year abatement. I guess it was for buiding on a former Superfund Hazardas waste site. I copied and pasted the following from an article regarding Ann's Choice: Real Estate Tax – Ann’s Choice has been operating under a Payment in Lieu of Tax agreement since its inception. This agreement has expired. After a period of negotiation with the taxing authorities it was deemed necessary for Ann’s Choice to file suit in order to pursue what we believe would be a more equitable arrangement for the community given the economic climate and decline in real estate values. We hope to settle this suit during 2012.
concerned citizen June 22, 2012 at 12:48 AM
No, Lauren, you get real. It is costing the "general population" $14.86 for a total of four new buses. I didn't see the "general population" going crazy over the 100's of dollars our taxes have been raised these last 4 years. Just for $14.86! Don't get me wrong, I do not want my taxes to keep going up, but the buses should have been in the budget the last four years. Maybe if this board have done their job these last couple of years, then we wouldn't be in this mess. All I keep seeing is how this board is building all these new schools under budget, well where's the extra money going? It sure isn't going back into the general fund or operations. If it was, we wouldn't have to keep having our taxes raised. They are frivolously spending it on the extras. Here's an expert from another patch article about Davis being under budget if you don't want to take my word. " Davis Elementary School Update Miller told the board construction at Davis Elementary School is "under budget and on time." He said the district would like to start moving items into the building July 15." The board also said that about the highschool. Where's the savings for the taxpayer?
Michelle Hazlett June 22, 2012 at 04:38 AM
For those McDonald parents who lost the prime time of 8:30am to 3:15pm I am sorry for you. Let me ask you, how would you feel if it were reversed and Willow Dale/Davis got the earlier time and you had the later time? I bet you all would be up in arms just like us. I did not see any McDonald parents saying "We will take the 9-3:45 time" There should be no staggered times. All elementary schools should be out at the same time. If your child plays sports/dance how would you feel if there were 3 equal teams in the finals but because the umpires/judges did not show up they just decided to pick winners. Your child's team lost and another team won. It was not your childs fault that the umpire/judge did not show up so why does the other team get to win? Don't tell me that you as a parent would not be upset! Don't tell me that you would tell your child to DEAL WITH IT! There were NO WINNERS in the vote! We all lost! Nobody is gloating and cheering on here saying"WE WON"!! The board had 3 years to figure this out. They knew that more buses were needed. They tried to pull a fast one and got caught. As far as teacher cuts go, they were cutting positions before the board meeting on Monday. Positions are not being cut because we need buses. All the schools in the area are cutting back on the fine arts programs, not just Centennial. If you have an issue with the solution that go to the board. Take it out on them, not us!!
Warminster Dad June 22, 2012 at 12:09 PM
Just so you know there were McDonald parents who would rather have had the 9:00 - 3:45 time and also parents who said whatever we get we will deal with, even if McDonald is the 9:00 - 3:45. Please stop making this an issue of school against school and acting like every McDonald parent loved the 8:30 - 3:15.
Emily Cohen June 22, 2012 at 01:05 PM
There have been staggered times in this district until now. That doesn't mean that students/parents in different schools were treated unfairly. We are one district; I agree with Warminster Dad: there shouldn't be an "us against them" mentality. The issue is over, whether you agreed with it or not. Now we just have to hope that the bus schedules will work smoothly as the board intended.
Thomas Hezel June 24, 2012 at 12:53 PM
If you don't care for how the school board handles things, you're always free to run yourself. They are always looking for qualified people who think they can do a better job. Just sayin...
Thomas Hezel June 24, 2012 at 12:56 PM
You DO realize that many times board members pre-count the yes's and no's and vote the way that can convenience them; ie, voting no even though they know in advance the measure will pass. Correct?? Not saying this happened here, but it does happen often. Especially with budget votes.
longstreth neighbor June 26, 2012 at 01:54 AM
teachers get raises and guaranteed jobs, tenuring a teacher sometimes just keeps the bad ones waiting to retire . while the good teachers are laid off, why not like most people that work and inflation hits have teachers pay more for health benefits that would save the tax payers and possible save a teachers job or two have them pay more for retirement. the staggered bus schedule seemed to work you just have to work around the changes. what happen to money from the sale of the 3 schools?. and did they forget when they put new homes in a already saturated market in where the schools were, i am sure more children will need the bus. not sure about retirement homes what they pay in taxes. as more taxes being added more resident wanting reassessment due to the decline in property values to lower their taxes more loss tax income. i would like to see the school board voted out and ones that are more concerned about the residents of Warminster an CSD. i moved to warminster because of the lower taxes. but they are starting to get up there with other township might be timed to move. i vote with my feet why not because nobody listens to the taxpayers anyway
Thomas Hezel June 27, 2012 at 06:56 PM
You won't regret sending your son to Nativity. Blue Ribbon school of excellence. Excellent staff. Family atmosphere. Dedication pouring out at every turn. The students reflect this. They're all amazing. Parent's make a big difference. AND you'll be saving all those taxpayers money. Welcome to the Nativity family!
James June 28, 2012 at 03:24 AM
I wish they left well enough alone and took care of the elementary buildings they already had. Each building has character and a sense of its community. Elementary school kids are young it was nice to be educated in the very beginning with a smaller school they had a sense of security. I know the bus commutes are going to be awful my daughter says she gets sick on them as it is. This block schedule idea for elementary is terrible. I feel sick to my stomach about these changes I am going to have very miserable children who are not going to want to go to school on a daily basis, they are going to miss their home their previous school where they were relaxed, nurtured and truly felt a sense of belonging. The school board I'm sure no longer have small children that this affects them. I do nota want to put a scared kindergartner on a bus and ship her across town for 40 minutes alone. Has the school even thought about how many parents are going to attempt to drive and pick up the children due to such delays in time.

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