Comments of Eric J. Epstein Re: Community Task Force

Posted by By at 29 March, at 13 : 24 PM Print

“The West Chester Area School District organized a volunteer Community Budget Task Force in September, 2009. Its goal was to study the district’s budget to find ways to reduce the 2010-11 school year budget by at least $4.9 million while having a minimal impact on the classroom.[1] The Task Force met again this year, and released a new set of recommendations in December 2012. West Chester is the model for the Central Dauphin School District Task Force.

On December 2, 2009, the Task Force suggested reducing the number of math and literacy coaches, gifted teachers and guidance counselors from 30 to 15 to save $1 million. West Chester maintained seven case workers. West Chester saved $206,333 by eliminating or reducing the number of extracurricular coaching and support positions.

However, West Chester constructed a shared sacrifice approach to labor reductions. The Task Force recommended eliminating one assistant principal in each of the three high schools for a savings of $390,000.

Nowhere in the West Chester paradigm did the Task Force recommend furloughing 50 teachers. The guiding principal was to make cuts with a minimal impact on the class room. In 2010, West Chester was able to maintain superior SAT scores in all three high schools. (Please refer to Enclosure 1)

According to Ford Thompson, “The West Chester school board adopted two-thirds of the community group recommendations, resulting in $3 million in either cost savings or revenue generations.” (Patriot News, Friday, June 25, 2010)

West Chester is a model for achieving substantial and sustainable savings while maintaining academic performance in the class room. As advertised on Central Dauphin’s web site, “The Community Task Force… will study ways to reduce or eliminate unnecessary expenditures and create sustainable revenue generating ideas.”[2]

I examined all of the CD Task Force subcommittee reports. There were savings and revenue generation plans submitted. Next year I recommend that the District produce a single coherent report with an executive summary, unifying narrative and a plan of action.

The Energy and Facilities Committee did an outstanding job and provided numerous cost avoidance and savings measures. The Committee projected savings of $132,286. I did not factor savings for high efficiency motors, landscaping and rain water reduction since these efficiencies required capital outlays.

There may be barriers to implementing some of the suggestions since state and utility support programing will be eliminated, modified or substantially reduced by the Corbett Administration. PPL will be modifying Act 129 , and requesting a $130 million distribution rate increase on March 30, 2012.[3] Substantial savings are available to the District based on current GSC pricing. Rates are now below 7 cents per kwh.[4]

The Extracurricular Committee reported revenue generation possibilities of up to $277,000 and potential savings as high as $745,840. Revenue generation included donations and sponsorships. Most of the savings ($600,000) would be derived by consolidating extracurricular programs for two high schools into one program.

The Finance Committees found potential cost savings of $244,438. However, $209,610 would be created by replacing certified teachers with senior volunteers who would receive a property tax rebate of up to $560. The potential for revenue generation of $126,955 was based on increasing meal prices.

The Tech Committee identified $24,800 in possible savings and revenue generation based on partnerships.

The potential for savings are $678,086 and additional revenue generation could be $872,795. However, to realize these “benefits,” the District would have to consolidate extracurricular activities into one high school program, increase the price of lunch, eliminate paid substitute positions, and successfully complete grant applications.

West Chester identified an implemented $3 million in cost savings and revenue generation. The Task Force identified over $1.5 million in savings and revenue generation. Can the Board, Director of Business Affairs or Acting Superintendent point out where these savings will be implemented in the proposed budget?

No where in the West Chester Report did I find a recommendation that protected administrative staffing levels.

Do we really need ten administrators to run two high schools?

How many principals does it take to change a light bulb?

Eric Epstein is the CDBDA Bussiness Agent.

Photo by digitalsean
Footnotes    (↵ returns to text)
  1. West Chester Area School District Community Budget Task Force DRAFT Report December 2, 2009.
  2. Community Task Force Sub-Committee Meeting Dates (All meetings to be held from 7-9 p.m.) Location of Subcommittee Meetings: All meetings will be held at CD East High School in Rooms 112 -119 and the Lecture Hall
    • October 4th
    • October 18th
    • November 8th
    • December 13th
    • January 3rd (Full Committee meeting and subcommittee breakouts)
    • January 31st
    • February 15th (Please note this is a Tuesday evening)
    • March 7th
    • March 21st
    • April 11th (Full Committee Meeting) – Final Committee Reports

  3. PPL Notice to Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission Commonwealth from Paul E. Russell, Esquire, PPL Associate General Counsel, Notice of Anticipated Filing of General Rate Increase, February 28, 2012.
  4. PPL Notice to Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission
    from Andrew S. Tubbs, Esquire , Post & Schell, Re: Petition of PPL Electric Utilities Corporation for Approval of its Energy Efficiency and Conservation Plan, Docket No. M-2009-2093216.


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This post was written by:
- who has written 353 posts for Rock The Capital
Eric J. Epstein is RocktheCapital‘s coordinator and a community advocate for good government for over 25 years. Mr. Epstein is also Chairman of the Three Mile Island Alert, Inc., a safe-energy organization founded in 1977; President of EFMR Monitoring Group, Inc., a non-profit economic development corporation established in 1977, and Chairman of the Stray Winds Area Neighbors (SWAN), a smart growth association organized in 2005. Mr. Epstein was a Visiting Assistant Professor of Humanities at PSU-Harrisburg (1992-1999) and co-authored the Dictionary of the Holocaust, which was released by Greenwood Press (1997) - Email Eric Epstein

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