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PVSD Approves 2012-13 Budget

Includes 2.285 percent property tax hike

The board of the Perkiomen Valley School District on Monday night adopted a $90.2 million budget for the 2012-13 school year.

The budget includes a 2.285 percent property tax hike for homeowners in the district. The tax rate will increase to 29.24 mills, which translates to an annual tax increase of $15.21 per year ($1.27 per month) for the average homeowner in the district.

The district could have increased taxes by up to 4.83 percent without putting the matter to voters in a referendum.

The board was negotiating with the teachers’ union as late as last Friday, June 15, for a 6-month wage freeze, but as of that date none of the teachers had agreed to the freeze.

The board voted to use the exclusions available under Act 1, which caps tax increases at 2.0 percent but allows districts to use certain exceptions to increase that amount.

The other two options for the board were to use the existing fund balance to cover the shortfall or to cut two more teaching positions (one via early retirement and the other by not filling a position that will be vacated).

“Cutting teaching positions will directly impact class sizes,” said business administrator Jim Weaver.

A large part of the increase in expenditures is a 43 percent increase in the district’s required contribution to PSERS, the Public School Employees’ Retirement System.

While raising taxes was a concern for several board members, several of them also expressed worries that the current fund balance won’t be enough money to cover the district’s needs.

Board member Randy Bennett said, “The long term choice is clear – we’re going to have to address the state of our fund balance at some point – but this collides head on with the political and economic reality we’re all faced with.”

The current $4,340,952 fund balance represents 4.78 percent of the district’s operating expenses for next year.

The budget vote consisted of both approving the general fund and approving the tax rates.

The general fund vote passed 6 votes to 2, with Capt. Sam Schweigert and board president Lynn Bigelow voting no. Yes votes were cast by board vice president Lori Snyder, Randy Bennett, Gerry Barnefiher, John King, Diane Landes and Ann Mantey.

The tax rate motion passed 5 votes to 3, with Bennett, Schweigert and Bigelow voting no. Yes votes were cast by Snyder, Barnefiher, King, Landes and Mantey.

“For those who have been around, this hasn’t been an easy budget year by any means,” Barnefiher said.

In addition to the budget discussions, the board also interviewed seven candidates for the seat being . Warren’s resignation will be effective June 30.

After a round of questions and two roll-call votes, the board selected  to fill the vacancy.

Galambos, a 12-year resident of the Perkiomen Valley, has two children in district schools – one going into second grade and one entering fifth grade. She campaigned for school board in November 2011.

The other six candidates were Elizabeth Stolar, Rich Bouher, Paul Smith, Jim Nelson, Keith Gilchrist, and Tonya Butler.

Each candidate was given two minutes per question to answer seven questions posed by the board.

The questions included queries on why each candidate wants to be on the board, what they feel the biggest problem facing the board is, how they would determine where to make cuts in a district facing budget issues, and who the board serves in order of importance.

Galambos told the board she was interested in the position because she “want[s] to be part of the solution.”

“I’d like to see greater use of town hall meetings and technology, and helping the public to understand the fiscal process - things like Act 1 and PSERS,” Galambos said when asked what she would change about the board.

The board’s most pressing problem, Galambos said, is “the sustainability of a high-quality education.

“I want to know, are [our students] going to college? Are they graduating from college? What outcomes are happening with our kids?”

Dave Sobczak June 19, 2012 at 02:11 AM
I have spent the last couple of months trying really hard to balance my household budget. I consider cutting some of my expenses but I found that each and every thing I spend money on is important to someone in my household. Unfortunately cost have gone up and revenues have remained steady or declined slightly. As a result I met with the board of my household tonight and we decided to reduce our property tax spending by 3.46%. Oh wait, we can't do that, we have to live with in our means.
L. S. sreym June 19, 2012 at 12:43 PM
Thank you, Dave for saying what needs to be said! PV needs to learn to live with our means!
Val Donovan June 19, 2012 at 11:04 PM
When they can account for every penny they spend & why and share those results WE the taxpayers should have the final say NOT the SCHOOL BOARD.
Camy Quinn June 20, 2012 at 02:43 AM
You do have the final say. You voted for the school board members, right? Unfortunately, lots of Collegeville residents don't participate in those elections (hopefully you did). Believe me, I do not want to pay more taxes. But I know which board members I voted for, and I know who supported the tax hike and who didn't. However, I also know the Governor has slashed the school's budget. I know the school has slashed programs and cut spending to make up for it - still there is a deficit (yet PV is in MUCH better shape than surrounding districts). I know I WILL NOT be voting for the current Governor next time around. What is more important than my child's education?
Dave Sobczak June 20, 2012 at 12:07 PM
Collegeville Mom, Voting is great but apparently the majority of the School Board members we voted for choose to ignore our repeated displeasure with these annual increases. Our economy has changed, in many of our households our spending patterns have changed, yet our elected officials, who surely must have the same issues on a personal level, continue to have an attitude that says to me "it's other peoples money." I agree with you that education is an important investment. The value of that investment is limited though if you eventually have no money left due to ever increasing taxation or worse yet have to leave the district do to the cost and are not able to take advantage. Voting for the other guy every other time is not working, we need to make it perfectly clear that the reason they don't have enough money is because we don't have enough money.
Camy Quinn June 20, 2012 at 12:47 PM
I am very fiscally conservative. I understand living within my means. I believe the schoo board should do all they can to do the same. However, in this case, Corbett is at fault. He has cut over 1.1 billion dollars from the PA education budget. 1.1 BILLION! PV is desperately trying to live within its means. They are balancing the choice between raising taxes or increasing class size - raising taxes or cutting educational programs, or sports, or extra support for special needs kids. So, I will need to pay an extra $200 next year, but my child won't have 35 kids in his class (at least next year). I'm willing to pay that - and I am encouraging EVERYONE not to vote for a candidate who cuts 1.1 BILLION dollars from PA public education. http://www.educationvoterspa.org/index.php/site/issues/governor-corbetts-budget-cuts-over-11-billion-in-education/ Look around at what it happening in other districts. PV is more financially responsible than the majority of the districts.
Camy Quinn June 20, 2012 at 12:51 PM
Oops. i just re-read the article. I was thinking I'd need to pay about $200 more in taxes next year. I was wrong. The article states the average homeowner will pay $15.21 extra. I am prefectly comfortable with that amount. :)
tim June 20, 2012 at 01:26 PM
Unfortunately the reporter's math and/or reporting is incorrect. A house assessed at $180,000 at current PV millage of about 28.57 would pay $5,140. A 2.285% increase would be $117 for the year. Perhaps an insignificant amount for a rich liberal like the collegeville mom, but an amount that adversely affects those on fixed incomes or looking for work. And, PV taxes are signficantly higher than any neighboring school district, and compounded by the fact that PV EIT rates are .9%, compared to .5% in every other school district in Montgomery county. I can do the math, that's 80% higher. As for the school budget cuts, the state doesn't have the money. Usually, when one doesn't have money, one doesn't spend money. Maybe collegeville mom has discovered some sort of alchemist's secret to make money appear out of thin air, I hope she will share it with the governor. Lastly, what was downplayed at the meeting and in the article was the union's refusal to accept a wage freeze for even half the year. Given the economic times we are all facing I thought it was a particular slap in the face to the taxpayers. President Bigelow, as gutless as they come, read a brief statement saying the teacher's unanimously refused to consider a half year pay freeze. And then didn't make any comment expressing any dissapointment with their decision. Then, they went on to cut several staff members who make $10-$12 per hour and limited benefits. How very sad and shame on the school board.
Camy Quinn June 20, 2012 at 07:31 PM
$117 makes much more sense. What doesn't make sense is you calling me a rich liberal. Why make a personal attack? I'm not happy with the current economic situation - I don't know the answer - I don't want to pay more taxes and I don't want my child's education to suffer. I'm not pretending to know it all - why attack me? Sometimes I agree with liberal policies, sometimes I agree with conservative ones. I try to research as much as possible and make an educated decision. I wish I were rich, but alas, I am not - not even close. My family constantly struggles with money. We live in a small, old house which has lost 25% of its value since we bought it. We do our best to save every penny, and we struggle to keep up with the bills. I wonder why you think I am rich? Because I am ok with paying extra money for the school district? Education is very important to me. Most people in this area pay more for their phone and cable in one month than they would need to pay for the year in extra taxes. We have not yet cancelled our family's cable subscription, but it is on the table in the future if we need to. I do sympathazie with people on fixed incomes. I think they should be exempt from tax hikes. Or I think there should be a public charity to help them. I would certainly donate to it.
Camy Quinn June 20, 2012 at 07:32 PM
I also researched about the pay freeze. First of all, it was not unanimous, that I know for sure. From what I read, close to 20% voted in favor of the freeze. I might not be 100% correct on the details here, but the reasoning to not accept the freeze was because the teachers already froze for a year (2 years ago) and accepted a 0% increase as part of their contract last year. So, they essentially have gone 2 years with a freeze already. Again, don't crucify me if I don't have that 100% perfect, but I know the reasoning runs along those lines. But I will get to work on that alchemist's method to make money out of thin air - thanks for the constructive idea. That sure would help everyone! :)
Val Donovan June 20, 2012 at 07:46 PM
Thank You Tim! Ditto.......
Brian June 21, 2012 at 05:43 PM
Got to back up Collegeville Mom on this one. She is 100% correct. Tim "slap in the face" ? You have a short memory teachers took a 0% increase for two years and will most likely be frozen after this contract runs out. Some districts are frozen up to 4 years. They have to look out for their own families too. My daughter is getting a solid eduation. That's why we moved here. Look around you Val and Tim. PV is doing a lot better with much less money than many other PA school districts. I don't have a problem with the $117. Both teachers and board are doing the best they can.
Camy Quinn June 21, 2012 at 06:02 PM
Val and Tim, just curious. If you think the board isn't handling their money correctly, what would you do differently? I think earlier this year they had a $900,000 deficit (caused by Corbett's cuts - yet still a deficit FAR less than surrounding districts). How would you make up for the $900,000 shortfall? Cut music or art? Fire teachers? Cut sports? Cut foreign language? The board considered al these options, but is desperately trying to keep jobs (and smaller class sizes) and keep every educational and extra curricular program. That is why they raised taxes (which is why I am not complaining about my tax hike). If you disagree with raising taxes, what would you have done differenty?
tim June 25, 2012 at 01:36 PM
Brian, I don't know about a slap in the face, but why do I strongly suspect you or a family member feeds at the public employee trough!! My memory is quite long, and I believe only one year has gone by with a zero % raise, and as you know, even when there is a so called 0% raise only the employees at the top of the scale get no raise, and even they likely got a one time cash payment. In the meantime, those in the private sector have gone years without raises for years and have had their benefits cut back, as well as experiencing a large amount of downsizing, These teachers have gone decades now with raises well above inflation and we are now at the point where their salaries and benefits are ridiculous. Luckily, more and more people are beginning to understand this, and we have finally made some headway in electing a few officials who have both the brains and guts to do something about it. (Gov Christie, Gov Walker, maybe Gov Corbett although that remains to be seen). Unfortunately, the PV school board doesn't get it quite yet, to approve a contract with well over 3% raises for this year and next was an act of stupidity we will not soon recover from. Based on some of the above comments, it appears some have bought into the teachers' union propoganda that the problem is on the revenue side, not the expense side.
tim June 25, 2012 at 02:02 PM
Collegeville Mom, You seem sincere but please realize that for the state to send more money to school districts, taxes would have to be raised. You've really got to realize the problem is a spending one, not a revenue one. To answer your question, after the teachers slapped the taxpayers of the district in the face by turning down a half year salary freeze, I would have made up the deficit by layoffs. The teachers union relies on sincere but misguided individuals like collegeville mom to aid in their efforts. About 6 or so teachers would have been left go to make up the deficit. Now, there are about 350 teachers in the district, so obviously class sizes would not need to go up dramatically with a less than 2% reduction of staff. One thing the teacher's union has done well is brainwash well meaning individuals like collegeville mom that any reductions whatsoever will decimate education and force their children into a lifetime of underacheivement. It is a disgusting, yet highly effective, tactic!! As for specifics, yes I would start with elementary spanish. My kids took this class. Here is how it goes: The teacher comes in and presses play on a dvd. Then she asks questions like 'como se llama 'table' in espanol?' Now, don't get me wrong, I am happy my kids were exposed to a foreign language. And this in fact might be the best way to teach it. But this is simply not an $80k per year job with ridiculous salaries and benefits, anyone could do it!
Michael Sobczak July 11, 2012 at 02:47 PM
My two cents on the matter: I graduated from PV in '07 and think highly of the district, especially in comparison to the other schools in the area. I have a son who is turning one in a month and have been thinking about where to move back into the PVSD to get him into the district. I recently came across an article about the "Top 1,000 High Schools In The Nation". Phoenixville came in at 912 and Methacton came in at 759. With PV not on the list I decided to E-mail the superintendent for his response on the matter. "Dr. Rogers, Did PVSD submit the survey to Newsweek for consideration in the top 1,000 list? If so, can you comment on the marks the school received back in comparison to other schools and how Methacton and Phoenixville's self-reported scores were better than Perkiomen Valley's? Thank you for your time and response. http://www.thedailybeast.com/newsweek/features/2012/americas-best-high-schools.html Thank you" His response: "Thanks for asking this question. We are looking into finding out why we did not receive an invitation to participate in the survey. We are confident that we would have been ranked highly. I have attached a Pennsylvania’s version of the data ranking chart that happens to show the PV-Souderton comparison of the many of the same data points used by Newsweek & Daily Beast. " (if any of you are interested in viewing the attachment he sent me send me an E-mail: sobczak927@gmail.com)
Michael Sobczak July 11, 2012 at 02:54 PM
Basically, Souderton ranks #1,106 in the nation; If PV is comparable then the quick answer here is that PV is a waste of time to include in a rankings list of the top 1,000. All in all, PV has degraded. Methacton and Phoenixville are improving and now I'm pondering if Methacton School District is the "right" place to stay for my son. Let alone the fact their taxation is less...I can't comment on their budget as I don't know the shape they are in. Why would I want to contribute my hard earned money to an area that appears to be in decline? I understand we're all having economic issues but why would I put my family in a place that has gone steps backwards even though other districts appear to be coping and handling the economic hardship properly...
Just another Mom July 17, 2012 at 04:53 PM
just curious, what elementary school does Galambos' kids go to? (yikes, is it do or does??)

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