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State College School Board Receives Final Proposed 2016-17 Budget

by on April 27, 2016 1:37 PM

The State College Area School Board this week received the final proposed budget for 2016-16 and approved a design team for an accelerated facilities master plan.

The board also received an update on the State College Area High School construction project, discussed a revision to the 2016-17 school year calendar and approved the purchase of video surveillance equipment for district transportation.

Business Administrator Randy Brown and Assistant Business Administrator Donna Watson gave an overview of the proposed budget, which will be submitted for approval at the board's May 9 meeting. The budget would result in a 4.32 percent real estate tax increase, or about $130 for the average district taxpayer. Brown said in March the increase would still keep State College Area with the lowest millage rate among county schools.

The budget includes $144,601,893 in revenue and $146,963,194 in expenses. It includes additions of new positions for three core elementary teachers, a learning enrichment and gifted support teacher, two Delta Middle School teachers to increase student capacity and one part-time Chinese teacher.

Accelerated Facilities Plan

At the Board's April 18 meeting, Brown and Superintendent Robert O'Donnell recommended adopting an accelerated calendar for facility master planning. Rather than the draft plan presented in February, under which planning would begin in September 2016 and end with board decisions in May 2017, they recommended starting planning in May 2016 with board decisions being made in October 2016. The accelerated plan would allow the district to take advantage of state grants to offset a significant portion of costs for elementary school projects.

On Monday, the board approved the appointment of Crabtree Rohrbaugh and Associate and Massaro Construction Management Services as the design team for an accelerated planning process. The companies are the same design team for the State High project.

The state grants would reimburse the district for up to $2 million per project and would have to be used by 2018. Radio Park and Houserville Elementary were identified in the grant application, but the distract could revisit its options during the planning process if other school projects with greater needs are identified.

The appointment passed by a vote of 8-1, with Laurel Zydney dissenting. Zydney said she thought a longer time is needed to assess the district's needs.

Physical Plant Director Ed Poprik said the design team and the district administration would work with the board and develop a community engagement plan, according to a district release.

State High Project Update

Massaro Construction Management's Tim Jones, construction manager for the State High project, said work is continuing on pods A and B foundations with workers currently pouring concrete for retaining walls. Crews are also starting to install concrete masonry units on parts of the foundations.

"We're starting to see the footprint [of pod B] take shape," he said, adding that the project remains on schedule.

Jones' presentation can be viewed in full here.

Calendar Change

The board discussed a change to  the 2016-17 academic calendar that would extend the district's traditional spring break in March from three to five days. The district has seen declining student attendance on Thursday and Friday after students are off Monday through Wednesday. Attendance drops to 82 percent on those days, compared to normal attendance of 92 to 95 percent, according to Assistant Superintendent Mike Hardy.

The proposed change would give students a spring break of March 6-10 next year. To make up the days, the school year would start a day earlier on Aug. 29 and finish a day later on June 9.

The proposed revision will be voted on at the May 9 meeting.

Bus Surveillance

The board unanimously approved the purchase and installation of 58 AngelTrax surveillance systems to complete an upgrade of district owned and contracted buses. The board previously approved the purchase of 55 systems in January. The completion of the upgrade brings the total cost to $137,842, all of which is a 2015-16 budget expenditure.

Geoff Rushton is managing editor for Contact him at [email protected] or find him on Twitter at @geoffrushton.
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