April 26, 2018
Result of the April 26th School Meeting – Your Taxes Will Increase Dramatically
At the April 26 school board meeting, 5 of the 9 school board members formally voted to authorize a $127 million project which includes construction of a new high school on the Sunnyside road property in Jennersville and conversion of the existing high school into a middle school for grades 6-8. This decision will expand the school facilities in the Avon Grove school district and make some needed improvements to the current high school. There was the possibility to authorize this project at a lower level but the 5 board members elected to authorize the maximum amount that can be covered by raising your school taxes to the maximum allowable increase for the foreseeable future.
For several weeks, school board members Beatty, Auerbach, Weber, and Dumont advocated extensively for a more reasonable and affordable option to renovate and expand existing facilities. AGTRS believes that the renovate/expand option best balanced educational needs with what the community can afford. However, the majority of the board members (Lisi, Wolf, Engle, Billig, and Wood) effectively moved that option off of the table and narrowed the remaining options to either building a new high school or building a new middle school on the Sunnyside property.
At Thursday’s (April 26) school board meeting, the president of the board, Traci Lisi, brought two resolutions forward for a vote. The two resolutions were for Educational Outcomes (9-0 vote to build a new high school) and for Funding Level (5-4 vote). It is important to note that the board vote was split on the funding authorized for the project. The final resolution was written to authorize funding to a maximum of $127 million and suggests that additional funding may be added by using exceptions to increase taxes over the Act 1 limit without a referendum (a public vote).
As with any complex issue, the community is divided on the decisions made by the school board. Below is a summary of how the board voted. You will have the opportunity to express your support or displeasure with this vote at the polls in November 2019. In the meantime, please continue to support the school members who will try to control the overall costs of the project .
School Board Members Who Voted for the Funding Level Resolution which will result in the raising of school taxes to the maximum Act 1 tax increases for 5 -7 years as well as an authorization to exceed the maximum tax increase with exceptions as needed.
Tracy Lisi, Board President: Up for reelection in 2019
Bonnie Wolff, Vice President: Up for reelection in 2019
Jeff Billig: Up for reelection in 2019
Herman Engel: Up for reelection in 2019
Bill Wood: Elected in 2017, Up next in 2021
School Board Members Who Voted Against the Funding Level Resolution because they believed that the project could be accomplished with significantly lower funding and because they were concerned that the residents could not afford such large school tax increases for the next 7 years:
Charles F. Beatty III: Up for reelection in 2019
Lynn Weber: Newly elected in 2017, Up next in 2021
Rick Dumont: Newly elected in 2017, Up next in 2021
John Auerbach: Newly elected in 2017, Up next in 2021
The Next Hurdle – School Budget for 2018/2019
Please consider attending the next Finance Committee Meeting on May 14th when the school budget for 2018/2019 will be discussed.The administration is proposing raising school taxes to the Maximum Act 1 Index increase of 3.1 % even before any borrowing for the new facilities has occurred.
*Call to Action
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 here.
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