Avon Grove Taxpayers for Responsible Spending


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

Facilities & Finance Meeting*
April 17, 2018

Facilities Committee Meeting
The Facilities Committee includes: Mr Jeff Billig (Chair), Mr John Auerbach, and Mr Herman Engel.  Mr Auerbach and Mr Engel attended this meeting with the following items being discussed:

Long Range Plan Update – The long range plan to maintain school facilities was presented by Mr Scott Millward, Supervisor of Buildings and Grounds. Work is being done in the high school to improve security in the lobby of the building; hardware has been replaced on the gym doors.  Mr Auerbach asked what work can be done now to improve the high school for the current students since we now know that the high school will be used in the future as the middle school.  Mr Millward replied that no work can be done until an architect assesses how the building will be used as a middle school.  No major improvements, including updating the bathrooms will be made until this occurs.  No major projects, including replacing the roof are planned for the summer.  

Seal coating and repairing the parking lot in the middle school has been completed. 

Work is being done to improve security at the Avon Grove Intermediate School.  Quotes are being obtained to improve security at the entrance of the Penn London Elementary (PLE) School.  Projects to replace interior lighting, art room countertops and casework should take place this summer at PLE.

Fire Marshal Meeting – the Fire Marshal has toured the high school buildings and made suggestions for improvement. He examined egress routes to make sure they are not being blocked by items stored in the area.  He also examined the chemistry labs and stage to make sure items are being stored properly.  He suggested that the fire lanes be better marked.

Sunnyside Road Artifact – 19th and 20th century artifacts have been discovered on the Sunnyside site as a result of pipeline construction. The Avon Grove school district has decided to keep the artifacts.  They may be displayed in the new high school.

Mobile Emergency Response Plan (MERP) – The Avon Grove school district is currently migrating into the platform which will include 80 users who will be identified by the school principals.

Safety and Security Enhancements – Improvements in security are being planned for the school buildings including improvements in the front entrance of the high school, the AGI atrium, and the PLE store front to manage the access of visitors to these buildings.

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

Chester County Intermediate Unit (CCIU) Budget Presentation - the CCIU is proposing no increase in the core budget contribution in 2018-19.  There will be a decrease in the occupational education tuition rate due to a change in the way the non-technical component of the tuition rate is calculated.  The Avon Grove school district helped to bring about this cost savings.

2018-19 budget – General Fund Update - Mr Daniel Carsley, the Director of Business Administration and the Chief Financial Officer of the school district, reviewed the budget process to date.  There are several unknowns with medical/prescription expenses since the school district is self-insured and has recently changed to a new plan.  Mr Carsley is watching the numbers closely.  The current budget proposes a 6% increase in medical/prescription expenses compared to 2017-18.

The administration is requesting a tax increase of 3.1% for the 2018/19 school year.This is the maximum tax increase allowed by Pa law. This level of tax increase is being recommended by the administration even though there is no explicit addition of new debt associated with the major facilities projects in the proposed budget. Ms Lynn Weber challenged the administration on the change in the tax increase from 2.55% in the initially proposed budget to 3.1%.She recommended that the tax increase remains at 2.55%.

Residents should ask themselves if they will be able to absorb 3-4% increases in school taxes every year for the foreseeable future.  This appears to be the plan of the current school administration. 

Timings for 2018-19 budget approval

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

Athletics & Activities Budget – the budget for athletics and activities was presented.  It was difficult to assess any differences vs past years since these numbers were not included in the presentation.  The presenter assured the audience that this was a fiscally responsible budget.

Capital Project Budget – the capital project budget includes the following:

High School          $882,500
Middle School      $155,000
AGI                         $35,000
PLE                         $500,500
District Office       $380,000

When a member of the audience asked if the money allocated to the high school would actually be spent in the 2018/19 school year, Mr Carsley responded that that was the intention while Superintendent Marchese would not commit to the spending.If the money will once again not be spent to fix the high school, one wonders why this money continues to be included in the capital project plan.

Keystone Tax Collection – the administration requested that the Finance Committee support their request to outsource tax collection to Keystone Tax Collection.  This will eliminate part of a full time position and save the school district $25,000/year.

Extinguished Tax Liens & Tax Exoneration Requests – taxes ($9000) have been exonerated on parcels where there are no longer any structures. 

Student Activity Account Closure Requests – money collected by students for the fall play and musical will be moved to the General fund.

Hospital Sale Update One of Tower Hill’s hospitals has been removed from the request for non-profit status.  This will lower the possible reduction in school tax revenue from $533,000 to $381,000 if the courts agree to Tower Hill’s request for non-profit status.

*Call to Action
It is important that your position on increasing taxes and building new school facilities is heard. It is critical that community members attend upcoming school board meetings and/or send letters via e-mail to the school board and administration to make their position known. The District Calendar can be found
here.   Watch the district calendar for updates.  Information about the board, including E-mail addresses, can be found

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