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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.

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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