Salisbury Press

Saturday, June 24, 2017

SALISBURY TOWNSHIP SCHOOL DISTRICT

Wednesday, June 14, 2017 by Debbie Galbraith dgalbraith@tnonline.com in Local News

Operations committee approves proposed final budget

At the June 5 operations committee meeting, the board approved a 2.5 percent tax increase for residents to balance the 2017-2018 budget. To lessen the burden on residents, the board voted to use $548,722 from the fund balance to fund the shortfall.

Business Administrator Robert Bruchak told board members, “The state has not finalized the budget yet, no programs have been cut, we are adding some staff and eliminating one bus.”

Board President Frank Frankenfield thanked Bruchak and the administration for work on the budget.

A discussion began when Bruchak said the district will see a savings of $133,000 if approved at the June 14 school board meeting. This savings was not included in the proposed final budget.

Board member Joseph Gnall said he would like to see the savings returned to the residents by reducing the proposed tax increase to 2.2 percent or 1.9 percent.

Board member Samuel DeFrank said he would like to put the savings toward the 2018-2019 budget knowing there will already be salary and retirement fund increases.

Board members Carol Klinger, Mary Ziegler, Susan Lea, Audrey Frick and Frankenfield suggested taking one-half of the savings this year and one-half of the savings for the 2018-2019 budget. “We should give back to the taxpayer,” Ziegler said. “We owe taxpayers to lessen the burden,” Lea said.

On a vote, all board members agreed.

In other business, Bruchak provided an update on the food service contract which was of special interest to the four food service personnel in the audience.

“We cannot move forward at this time [with the contract],” Bruchak said.

In March, the district issued a request for proposal to 10 companies to take over the food service for the district. In April, five companies completed a walk- through of the district facilities and four companies responded to the RFP.

Administrators then went on three site visits, experienced the food and reviewed the financial information from those companies.

“We narrowed it down to two companies,” Bruchak said.

Bruchak said there was an issue with each company and the district is currently getting advice from the solicitor and the Pennsylvania Department of Education.

“There is a strong chance we may rebid,” Bruchak said. “If so, we will be on a fast track.”

Bruchak said it is written in the RFP for existing staff to remain. “As they leave, they would probably be replaced by food service personnel mostly because of pension problems. Independent companies don’t have the Public School Employees’ Retirement System problem and it is more expensive for us to meet the National School Lunch program.”

This was welcome news to Harry S Truman Elementary School Head Cook Julie Mokris who said the food service employees are “nervous.”

Frankenfield assured Mokris and the other staff in attendance, “Our employees are important to us. It is a driving force in our district.” He said that is why the language was included in the RFP to retain current employees.

The committee reviewed policies on truancy and field trips.

Superintendent Dr. Randy Ziegenfuss said the truancy policy reflects the new law which will be reviewed with staff over the summer.

Ziegler asked if the district has a role in truancy at the charter schools. Ziegenfuss said the district is still responsible if the students are not going to school. He said the district is required to do an investigation after six unexcused absences. Final approval will be on the June 14 agenda.

The next operations committee meeting will be held 7 p.m. Aug. 7 in the administration building.