Avon Grove Taxpayers for Responsible Spending


        Citizens, Parents, and Schools working together to bring Avon Grove into the 21st Century!

January 29, 2018

Finance & Facilities Committee Meetings

January 16th, 2018

The Finance Committee includes: Mr Herman Engel (Chair), Ms Lynn Weber, and Ms Bonnie Wolff.  The following items were presented at the meeting:

  • 2018-19 budget – first look

  • Timeline for budget approval

  • General Fund Multi-Year Projection

  • Hospital Sale Update

A key take-away message from the meeting was the request by Dr Marchese, the school superintendent to raise taxes in 2018 to the highest rate allowable by law.  In his words: “Anything less would be leaving money on the table.”  Please read further for more details.

2018-19 budget – First Look

Mr Daniel Carsley, the Director of Business Administration and the Chief Financial Officer of the school district, started the meeting with a review of the accomplishments of 2016-17 which included full-day kindergarten for the Penn London Elementary School and the implementation of the new bell schedule for the High School.  Areas of focus for 2017-18 continue to include full-day kindergarten for Penn London and Technology integration (Schoolology) for the High School.  Please note that it is always difficult to follow the finance presentations because they usually include large tables full of numbers that are difficult to see.  We have asked to have access to paper copy of the slides at the start of the meeting.  This request was denied by the last school board.  The slide set is usually posted in BoardDocs which can be located on the school website a few days after the meeting.

The 2017-18 budget was reviewed.  It included a planned transfer of $1.6 million to the capital project fund and a structural deficit of $2,966,763.  As planned, $1.3 million from the Public School Employees’ Retirement System (PSERS) fund (money previously allocated for use as the teacher retirement costs increase) was used to balance the budget.  

Mr Carsley presented the budget for 2018-19 which included an increase in local revenue of $4, 119,521.  This is the result of a proposed tax increase of 2.5%.  The additional revenue is needed to deal with increases in healthcare (­$1.7 million), salaries (­$695,707) retirement costs (­$555, 750), charter school (­$400,000), and the academic portion of the Voc Tech education (­$105,649).  Costs for the building or renovation of school facilities are not included in this budget.

The ACT1 index is 3.1% for the 2018-19 school year.   Dr Marchese strongly recommended that the school board adopt a tax increase at the maximum rate allowed by the ACT1 index.  Though the draft budget includes a proposed increase of 2.5%, Dr Marchese would like the increase to be 3.1%.

 Timings for budget approval

January 16 – presentation of 2018-19 draft budget to the Finance Committee (completed)
February 13 – presentation of the revenue portion of budget to the Finance Committee
March 13 - presentation of the expenditure portion of budget to the Finance Committee
April 17 - presentation of the capital plan portion of the budget to the Finance Committee
April 16 – proposed final adoption of the budget at the School Board Meeting
May 14 – budget work session during the Finance Committee to deal with outstanding issues
June 5 - budget work session during the Finance Committee to deal with outstanding issues
June 7 – final adoption of the budget

General Fund Multi-Year Projection

Mr Carsley presented the projected budget for the next 5 years (up to an including 2022-23).  The budget included a 2.5% tax increase in each year resulting in the millage increasing from 29.766 (2017-18) to 33.694 (2022-23).  Based on Dr Marchese’s previous comments, it is likely that the year on year tax increases will be higher, i.e. they will be equal to the maximum allowed by the ACT 1 index.  Costs for the building or renovation of school facilities are not included in this 5-year budget projection.

Jennersville Hospital Sale

Mr Carsley updated the committee on the status of Reading Health’s request for non-profit status for their recent purchase of Jennersville Hospital.  Reading Health was denied their original request which they are now appealing.  Mr Carsley believes that the hospital will eventually be classified as a non-profit which will become effective as of January 2018.  This could result in $500,000/year loss of revenue to the school district. The loss of this revenue has not been factored into the 2018-19 budget or the 5 year projection.

Facilities Committee Meeting

The Facilities Committee includes: Mr Jeff Billing (Chair), Mr John Auerbach, and Mr Herman Engel.  The Five Year Capital project Plan was discussed at tonight’s meeting.  To provide a perspective, the following is a summary of money that was allocated to be spent for the school facilities in 2016-2017.  The amount budgeted to be spent in 2017-2018 is also included.

The district continues to spend significantly less money than was originally budgeted for school facilities. 


It is interesting to note that for school year 2017-2018 only a modest amount of money has been budgeted for the High School despite the issues with lighting in the auditorium, the dismal conditions of the bathrooms, the school roof, and HVAC system. 

John Auerbach questioned why so little of the money allocated for capital projects is not spent.  Mr. Auerbach asked if a better process for identifying projects that will take place in the school year is needed.   Mr. Auerbach also asked the Superintendent why improvements desperately needed for the High School continue to be postponed.   Dr. Marchese responded that he didn’t want to spend money on the High School until he knew what was being done with building.  Mr. Auerbach reminded Dr. Marchese that the current FIG proposal postpones the renovation of the High School until 2023 and that it is not realistic to wait until 2023 to fix the High School.  The only answer from Mr Jeff Billing (Chairman of the Facilities Committee) and Dr. Marchese was to trust the process. 

Call to Action - It is clear from this meeting that taxes will continue to rise unless the school board steps in and forces the administration to control costs.  It is critical that community members have their voices heard by the school board.  Please consider attending upcoming school board meetings and/or sending letters via e-mail to the school board members. 

Calendar for upcoming meetings can be found 
E-mail links to the school board can be found 

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