Several important items we’d like to share with you again

Several important items we’d like to share with you again
Posted on 04/30/2019

Greetings! Hope all is well and that you have already starting enjoying the lovely spring weather.

Lots of news to report! Please take a moment to read a few of the articles in the Board Newsletter and In The Q. As the end of the academic year approaches, Quakertown students are participating in numerous local, regional, state and national competitions. One of the most intense and fun to watch competitions was Math 24! It is high stakes competition for 3rd, 4th and 5th graders. In the five years that Quakertown has held the inter-building event, a Richland Elementary School team has taken first place four times. The Bucks County Math 24 competition will be held on May 18th. TSA and FBLA (Technology Student Association and Future Business Leaders of America) have shined at state level and moving on to nationals. We are certainly proud of all of our students!.

Every year, we seek parent participation and leadership in developing the process and procedures on topics that have a districtwide impact, such as the facilities study and student school assignments. This year, a Parent-Community Safety Committee looked at everything related to school safety. A few weeks ago, they briefed the School Board on their findings and recommendations. During the month of May, the Administration will be reviewing and prioritizing the recommendations for discussion with the Board, and for incorporating them into the Superintendent Goals for 2019-20.

Last Thursday night's School Board meeting was packed with action items and information briefings (meeting video). Up first was Lieutenant Commander Humphries, a Junior ROTC instructor from New Jersey. The district submitted an application to host a program several years ago. Members of the Board's Education Committee wanted to know what a NJROTC program entailed. Then, Strayer Middle School Principal Dr. Jennifer Bubser provided a briefing on Middle School Sports. Concerns from parents, students and coaches have been raised the last two years about the lack of participation and other issues with the current two varsity teams, two junior varsity teams per sport system. Dr. Bubser and Athletic Director Sylvia Kalazs studied the issue, met with parents, conducted surveys and presented their findings to the Board. Next year, the plan is have only one varsity and junior varsity team per sport and to create an intramural program that includes 6th graders.

Also at the Board meeting, the Administration provided a presentation on the Proposed Final Budget for 2019-20. In January, the School Board elected to stay within the Act I Index of 2.7 percent, which raises $2 million dollars in additional revenue. In a 9-0 vote on April 25, the Final Budget was approved in its first reading. The final reading and approval is scheduled for June 6th. The major cost drivers or 94 percent of the increase in the budget is from contractual agreements that include salaries and benefits, an increase in debt service (mortgage payment) for building/renovating Neidig Elementary School, an increase in Upper Bucks County Technical School costs due to our increasing student enrollment there, and adding professional and support staff to address student needs.

As we continue to project declining enrollment for another five years, our professional staffing strategy is to retain current staffing levels to reduce class size, and add staff positions to further expand our special education and mental health services. These positions include a Board certified behavioral analyst, two special education teachers, a health teacher, and four additional special education aides. We feel confident that our student enrollment projections will once again be close to spot on. This school year we were within 12 students of our overall student enrollment forecast/prediction. It's important to note, especially after reading a few social media posts, that next year's teacher to student radios will be equal to what they were during AY 2012-13. The data can be found on page 13 of the Proposed Final Budget for AY 2019-20. Student to aide ratios will be the best they have ever been. Budget information can be found here.

In other Board business, the Board directed the Administration to bring back a contract proposal for completing QNB Bank Field - the varsity sports field complex behind the high school. It will be two contracts - a concession stand/bathroom/storage building and a band tower. The total one time cost of the project will come out of this year's budget.

Thank you for reading! Please continue to share your thoughts with the Board and me.

Have a good evening!

Bill Harner

Twitter: @BillHarner

(215) 529-2002

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