The Conewago Valley School District has included a substantial tax increase in its proposed Fiscal Year 2022-23 budget.
District Business Manager Lori Duncan said the district can balance its budget with a millage of 14.8525, representing a 4.6 percent increase from the current rate. The rate is the maximum allowed under the state’s Act 1 limitations.
Duncan said the district should receive more state funding than it does. “The state is [supposed] to provide about 50% of the support to the schools and as you can see, they’re only providing about 35.3%,” she said.
Board President Edward Groft agreed, saying that the funding is based on student enrollment from 1997 and that approaching representatives and senators hasn’t helped.
The board hopes to avoid touching the district’s fund balance of $7,808,751 during the 22-23 school year.
“I will say that that fund balance, if we would have to dip into that every year, at some point we would not be sustainable,” Groft said. “So every time, we sit down and talk about what we need to do. What can we do to make sure we can still be here in 5 or 10 years, especially with our community growing the way it is? Keep in mind all of those figures up there are kind of bare bones. It’s what we can do, what we can offer to maintain what we have for every student in this population.”
Duncan also pointed to charter school enrollment as a factor in the budget. On average, it costs the district $11,343 for a student to attend a cyber or brick-and-mortar charter school and $28,151 for a special education student to attend.
With a total of 209 students, including 26 special education students, opting for charter schools, the district has $2,807,695 effectively “going out the door,” according to Duncan.
“When we look at those numbers, it also gives us an idea of how much additional staff and programs we could offer if we had those funds staying in our district,” Duncan said.
Duncan said that over the past several years, there haven’t been significant changes to the district’s financial situation.
“You’ll see that we’ve taken some slight dips but we’re hanging in there pretty steadily and haven’t really been growing but we’re maintaining at this point in time,” Duncan said.
Lynne Miller, supervisor of student services, said she will hold a meeting to discuss how to use Title funds. The meeting will be held from 7-8 p.m. Thursday, May 19 via Zoom and invitations will be sent to families and staff.
The board will adopt the final budget during its board meeting in June.
Superintendent Sharon Perry announced that a new assistant superintendent, Robert Walker, will begin working on June 2. Perry previously served as the assistant superintendent before taking on the role of superintendent.
The board unanimously reelected Luke Crabill as its treasurer.
Stephanie Corbin, director of special education, shared a statement provided by a teacher. In the reflection, the teacher said she was anxious about working in a new position, and “terrified” after discovering students were below their grade level. The teacher soon realized how quickly the students would progress.
“’I quickly found out that these students are some of the most hardworking, kind and motivated kids I have ever had in my career,’” Corbin read. “’Beyond that, I have seen incredible growth. I have students who have made two to three years of academic progress in just one year and they’re very excited about May, as we will be reading and studying our final novel of the year. My students have read three different novels with me in class this year. Knowing where we started in August, way below grade level, this is an incredibly huge feat for them. I watched their skills, confidence and their love of reading grow. I am so proud of their hard work, their focus and their amazing attitudes and perseverance.’”
Corbin said the statement was an encouraging snapshot showcasing the “passion, the dedication, the commitment and the heart of our teachers and our students” in Conewago Valley.
The board recognized several students for recent achievements:
- Aden Garcia was recognized for being named the New Oxford High School Rotary Student of the Month for April
- Brando Gonzalez was recognized for winning Best of Show in the Recyclable Art Contest held by the Adams County Arts Council
- Shaely Stabler was a nominee for the Gettysburg Times Spring Sports Athlete of the Week for April 11
- Camden Elmo was named the Gettysburg Times Spring Sports Athlete of the Week for April 11
The board also noted 15 students who received college acceptances and 12 students who received scholarships totaling $1,379,450.
Jonathan Makowski will receive a Teacher Impact Award from WITF. He will be given the award on May 24 at the WITF Media Center in Harrisburg.
The board held executive sessions on April 11 and May 2, as well as meetings before and after the open meeting on Monday, to discuss “personnel, confidential and legal information,” according to the board’s agenda.
The board will hold a study session at 7 p.m. on Monday, June 6 in the district office. The next regular board meeting will be held at 7:30 p.m. Monday, June 13 in the district office. Meetings are also recorded and posted to the district’s YouTube channel.
Imari Scarbrough is a freelance journalist. She was a staff newspaper reporter for five years before becoming a freelancer in 2017. She has written on crime, environmental issues, severe weather events, local and regional government and more.
You can visit her website at ImariJournal.com.