Members of the H. Michael Gallagher, Jr. Memorial Fund were on hand at the May 21 Spring-Ford Area School District work session to donate an Automatic External Defibrillator [AED]. Health Services Department Head Debora Zelle introduced Gallagher and the founder of the fund, Joseph Keefe.
Keefe explained that Michael Gallagher Jr. was a 1990 graduate of Owen J. Roberts High School. He suffered from a rare, "hard to diagnose" heart disease that can cause a sudden cardiac death to "apparently healthy individuals." The disease caused his eventual death.
The H. Michael Gallagher, Jr. Memorial Fund helps provide AEDs for local schools, sponsors college scholarships annually and helps provide aid in research for the American Heart and Lung Associations.
"Thank you for the wonderful donation to the district," said board President Tom DiBello. "I hope to say we never have to use it, but thank you very much."
Finance Committee Report
DiBello reported the finance committee met on May 8 and reviewed executive reports. DiBello said the district is on track to save between $1 and $1.1 million by using Jani-King in 2011-12. He also reported the Upper Providence tax collection issue is still at large and being investigated via audit.
DiBello responded to recent allegations from "some cost centers" that said Spring-Ford did not utilize approximately $175,000 of its budget in a prior year.
"We just need to be aware of why it wasn’t utilized in the budget year," he said. "We're trying to get our arms on spending and make sure projections are dead on target. We'll be presenting to the board in an upcoming meeting, the 2011-12 cost per student that broke into various categories."
The finance committee has been working on ways to make the budget process smoother and smoother each and every year, DiBello said.
Property Committee Report
Board Vice President Joe Ciresi reported the district is replacing an old sign with a new one at the arboretum behind the . The board recently voted to provide $30,000 in preliminary funding for a complete makeover of the arboretum. The board hopes to have that money paid back in community donations.
Ciresi said the committee also had a long discussion regarding the health and wellness center the district is thinking about building.
"We'll be coming back with a more definitive cost structure," Ciresi said.
Board member Mark Dehnert recalled to the board that the center is currently projected at between $3 and $4 million. He asked if the district really wants to use that amount of money for this type of project, especially given the difficult economic times.
DiBello indicated this was originally brought up when the capital projects account was being created with leftover money from bonds. However, the board voted against using the money for that.
He continued by saying the federal government is getting more involved on what food can be served at the school cafeterias and that childhood obesity is becoming a focus.
"As a district, I feel strongly that we should do what we can do to address that," DiBello said. "Our staff is working aggressively coming up with the best strategy possible. It's only a matter of time that we’re going to be forced to do something to address it."
Ciresi said talking about it at the committee level doesn't mean the district is committed to the project. It just means, Ciresi said, that the district is aggressive in looking into it.
The consensus of the board in the discussion was to move forward with discussions.
District Working on Capital Projects
The following capital projects are currently under way:
- Softball scoreboard/bleachers/lights going to be installed by mid-June
- New sign for has been ordered and will be installed after graduation
- Dedicated display case to Ireland’s school similar to what they display for Spring-Ford
- parking lot to be done by end of June
- Continuation of what needs to be done at Brooke for office. New entrance for office will start when school ends
- Babe Ruth program wants to add on to dugouts for additional storage at Ram Stadium. District would not have to pay for that
Board member Ed Dressler reported the prevailing wage has been an ongoing issue.
"If they can amend those rules, it would greatly decrease costs of construction projects in school districts," he said.
The other big issue, Dressler said, is that the PSBA is interested in the payments districts have to make to charter schools.
"The way I read it, the districts have to pay for each student," he said. "Regardless of whether the charter school is operating at a lower cost level. If we are paying $7,000 per student and they are operating at $5,000, they still get $7,000."
Dressler said the PSBA is trying to change that to a more equitable system. He also said that if a charter school identifies a student as a "special needs" student, the cost goes up significantly. Assistant Superintendent Allyn Roche, who has been involved in research on this topic, said the cost of a special needs student almost triples the cost of non-special needs students.
Spring-Ford currently has 178 students enrolled in charter schools, both cyber and brick-and-mortar.
Western Montgomery Career and Technology Center
Ciresi indicated the president of the Joint Operating Committee reported that if Spring-Ford supports the school's budget for 2012-13, he would be willing to have an open forum on a capital reserve fund. It has been previously reported that the other two sending districts, Upper Perkiomen and Lower Pottsgrove, do not support a capital reserve fund.
"My recommendation tonight as a member is that we ask to have a full convention of the 27 board members of the three districts to discuss [capital reserve]," Ciresi said. "One of the arguments of why not to do it is the building is brand new and we don’t need to discuss it."
Ciresi said if Spring-Ford votes "no" on the budget and the other six vote "yes," they may not have an opportunity to have the capital reserve discussion.
Roche reported the district is 100-percent compliant in immunizations. He thanked the staff for its hard work on achieving that goal.
He also reported an excellent turnout at the virtual academy open house on April 19.
"We had 15 potential students," he said. "We have made second contact since then. We updated the virtual academy website with a video showing a day in the life of a typical virtual academy student."