Quakertown directors still struggling...

Quakertown directors still struggling with budget, cuts

There are 106 comments on the The Morning Call story from Mar 13, 2010, titled Quakertown directors still struggling with budget, cuts. In it, The Morning Call reports that:

SPECIAL TO THE MORNING CALL Melinda Rizzo is a freelance writer. March 13, 2010 Quakertown Community School District officials continued to consider budget cuts at their regular business meeting Thursday night, including the possibility of closing Haycock Elementary School, eliminating middle school and freshman sports and delaying renovations to ...

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TruthBeToldSelle rvilleISP

Hatfield, PA

#1 Mar 13, 2010
The state would allow an increase of up to 11.5 mills (8.9%) increase and that is “unlikely” to be the final budget. We can expect a minimum of 5.2 mill increase in school taxes but there is still a $5.2 million shortfall to be made up. How?

Proposed : using the fund balance, postponing maintenance projects at Milford Middle School and the high school, increasing class size, implementing a pay-to-play sports and extracurricular program, closing Haycock, and eliminating middle school and freshman sports.

Too bad our esteemed business manager will not be staying on to continue the fine job that has brought us to this point.

My vote for cuts would begin with closing the Haycock School. That would save money now and in the long run.

Taxpayers should be aware of what they can expect to pay next year and remember that senior citizens will receive NO increase in Social Security.
Grow Some

Green Lane, PA

#2 Mar 13, 2010
When will the directors get some balls and start making these decisions. Talk talk talk,you were voted in to do a job start doing it. Same threats all the time put your actions where your mouths are. And as far as the board meeting the other night another fine example of a three ring circus. So unorganized and no respect shown, but yet we the tax payers and parents are ask to show respect. Need to save money close that piece of crap Haycock School for starters and if your going to cut sports please do so soon so that the kids can get to the streets. Another suggestion get rid of the Super Women. And yes get ready for the teachers contract renewal the show will go on.
TruthBeToldSelle rvilleISP

Hatfield, PA

#3 Mar 15, 2010
"Holy Moly" wrote on another thread (musiq?)
on Dec. 9, 1009:
"Dr A said in the first MUSIQ meeting that uniforms were on the list for next year as important expenses, right below paying the electric bill.Hope she realizes that everyone will remember what she said."

Were any more budget decisions written in stone- or sand? Is the QCSD Superintendent a public employee or a politician? Was the present budget shortfall a surprise? Who could have possibly thought revenues would continue to be down and expenses up?

It's all new every year with a board majority that is more concerned with image than substance, that refuses outside performance audits and chose to have employees evaluate themselves, that demonized "Reformers" who called for more professional budgeting and spending procedures and higher academic standards, and that wanted to sue a citizen who advocated for long term rolling budgets.
Any Answers

Green Lane, PA

#4 Mar 17, 2010
Does anyone know if they decided on Middle School and Freshman sports? My child is upset that he will have nothing to do since he out grew most youth programs.
My Impressions

Quakertown, PA

#5 Mar 17, 2010
Any Answers wrote:
Does anyone know if they decided on Middle School and Freshman sports? My child is upset that he will have nothing to do since he out grew most youth programs.
The only discussion at the last school board meeting about middle and high school athletics seemed to center on whether or not to institute pay to play.

There was acknowledgement that athletics and extra-curriculars remain a key component in a comprehensive and successful public education system. Recent laws allow for home schooled children to join the public school teams, activities, and clubs in their district. The Friday night football games serve many age groups in the community.

The conservative position held by some of the most vocal members of the community is that tax dollars should fund the three Rs only: reading,'riting, and 'rithmatic, the ol' fashion way with rote memorization. All other costs should be bore by the parents. There are currently a minority number of school board members with this conservative of a view point.

There was acknowledgement that parents already pay hundreds to thousands of dollars a year for extra-curricular and athletic costs. A small amount of dedicated parents do the lion's share of the fundraising work that defrays costs for other parents and taxpayers already.

There seemed to be board consensus that the time may be right for pay to play with the understanding that children eligible for free and reduced lunches would have such fees waived and that the fee should be nominal for all families in acknowledgement of the facts that they are just as likely to be spread thin in this economy as those without children.

There was discussion that the program would need to be simple in order to keep administrative costs down. Further evaluation is needed to determine whether the tipping point of revenue vs. adminstrative costs is something considered "nominal" by a majority of the board members.

Research was discussed that many district have tried and scraped pay to play because it ended up costing more than it generated. Most of these districts have similar demographics while wealthier districts have parents paying over a thousand dollars in pay to play because of the value placed on extra-curricular opportunities.

The final budget is months away, so nothing is permanently on or off the table.

Keep the following in mind:

Pop Warner football takes kids up to age 16 and 185 pounds.
Midget Wrestling has weight classes up to 285 pounds
Baseball players can go right from QYBA to Connie Mack through to the end of a high school and beyond
RASA softball goes through the age of 18

Some prefer school athletics because educators are the coaches and not parents who can be viewed as most vested in their own child's performance.
Haycock Dad

Blue Bell, PA

#6 Mar 17, 2010
My Impressions wrote:
<quoted text>
Keep the following in mind:
Pop Warner football takes kids up to age 16 and 185 pounds.
Midget Wrestling has weight classes up to 285 pounds
Baseball players can go right from QYBA to Connie Mack through to the end of a high school and beyond
RASA softball goes through the age of 18
Some prefer school athletics because educators are the coaches and not parents who can be viewed as most vested in their own child's performance.
Thanks for your comments and perspective, they were helpful. Would you happen to know if current Middle School and Freshman coaches are compensated? And, if so, how much? Also, in past years, I've attempted to research the District cost of running such programs, with no success. Do you you know of any resource that could provide the total program cost, per child, of any given sports program. For example, how much does it cost per child for Strayer football? I'd be interested in those figures, and the comparison to the very reasonable costs of the QMFA.
TruthBeToldSelle rvilleISP

Hatfield, PA

#7 Mar 17, 2010
Haycock Dad wrote:
<quoted text>
Thanks for your comments and perspective, they were helpful. Would you happen to know if current Middle School and Freshman coaches are compensated? And, if so, how much? Also, in past years, I've attempted to research the District cost of running such programs, with no success. Do you you know of any resource that could provide the total program cost, per child, of any given sports program. For example, how much does it cost per child for Strayer football? I'd be interested in those figures, and the comparison to the very reasonable costs of the QMFA.
Don't research it here. Stop by the Milford QCSD Administration building and fill out a Freedom Of Information request. Information here must be verified no matter what you read so why not take a half hour or so to find out actual numbers? They should be readily available unless the district still uses antiquated single entry bookkeeping and then it might take longer. Of course, the administration wants to obscure such information.

Good luck!
Haycock Dad

Blue Bell, PA

#8 Mar 17, 2010
TruthBeToldSellervilleISP wrote:
<quoted text>
Don't research it here. Stop by the Milford QCSD Administration building and fill out a Freedom Of Information request. Information here must be verified no matter what you read so why not take a half hour or so to find out actual numbers? They should be readily available unless the district still uses antiquated single entry bookkeeping and then it might take longer. Of course, the administration wants to obscure such information.
Good luck!
I did place such a request in 2008, at the old Admin location in Qtown, and was told, and I'm paraphrasing here, "We don't keep that information, it would have to be pulled together." Thought it might be published somewhere? Perhaps I'll try again this week. Thanks.
TruthBeToldSelle rvilleISP

Hatfield, PA

#9 Mar 17, 2010
Haycock Dad wrote:
<quoted text>
I did place such a request in 2008, at the old Admin location in Qtown, and was told, and I'm paraphrasing here, "We don't keep that information, it would have to be pulled together." Thought it might be published somewhere? Perhaps I'll try again this week. Thanks.
Did you put it in writing and the QCSD administrators refused? More than a year is more than enough for any organization to answer a legal formal request. Oral, undocumented requests are as meaningful in the long run as our anonymous musings here.

Remember the entry in the minutes of the QCSD minutes where the suggestion for "double entry bookkeeping" was referred to as keeping "two sets of books"? Remember the many entries on these threads concerning the absurd notion that the QCSD purchase and use a well tested, professionally supported accounting system? You are reaping the results.

How a multi million dollar budget can be arrived at without knowledge of the component parts is no mystery: it's all new every year and its all up to whichever group is the most vocal and willing to support incumbants who will cow-tow to their demands.

My advice would be to rally your forces and show up at QCSD board meetings with kids (in uniforms, or with instruments, etc.) and call the press in and go for it!

Good luck!
My Impressions

Quakertown, PA

#10 Mar 18, 2010
Haycock Dad, if teachers are coaches, then there is unit pay that is part of the contract (you may request and view the contract). I suspect that the same unit pay would be extended to coaches that do not teach based upon the several factors. Review the Personnel section of the minutes in the archives via the school board section of the web site for unit pay approvals when a coach is appointed/hired. I believe that last years' budget may have included the use of some volunteer coaches to reduce costs, but I would expect that teachers' would contractually receive unit pay and that volunteers would be community members or former players.
When you get beyond this, satisfying a curiosity becomes debatable when it comes to efficient use of resources.
The treasurers' report and bills are inches thick stacks of paper each month and this is what is considered a public document available to all for viewing. There is nothing in law that says staff must dedicate time to pull data from various resources to satisfy an individual's curiosity.
While the critics are the first to abhor inefficiency, they are often the first to expect many man hours pulling data from multiple sources to satisfy their own curiosity or even cherry pick and twist numbers to criticize. I don't believe that was your intention, but kindly note who encouraged you to insist on your right to have access to information.
When you talk about athletics and per student costs, you are referencing costs that will vary from year to year depending upon the number of students.
Uniforms will last more than one season. So, how to you spread the cost out across seasons? When bids are put out for "uniforms," it would likely be for more than Strayer football. The approval of bids for "athletic supplies" will be present in building minutes available in the archives and then you can ask to see the bills payable from that meeting, but again, detail down to Strayer football uniforms may very well require man hours to pull detail beyond what is in inches-thick reports.
Similarly, insurance costs are going to be a part of what you would consider athletic costs. Insurance policies cover buildings and athletics. I doubt the insurance statements have line items for each team in each building. Again, is it efficient to have administrative time spent to sit down with multiple sources of data, total the athletic programs or the time spent in the buildings and on the fields to determine the percentage of insurance costs attributed to football at Strayer?
You will have busing costs and again, digging into how many of those costs were connected to Strayer football would require time. Students from all fall sports will ride the late bus home so do you leave this out of your calculations? I don't believe records are kept of the activity that lead the student to use the late bus.
I believe that something as massive and public-based as a school district needs to apply practices as consistently as possible. If the practice was to satisfy every curiosity-based question down to the detail that was easy for the individual to generate and up to hundreds of man hours to answer, then staff would need to be dedicated to this. Is this serving the mission of an efficient system of public education?
In recent years, individuals on the school board embarked on curiosity through witch hunt-like inquiries and it got to the point that even board members had to have majority support from the board to get administrative time spent digging into details. If it makes for an academically stronger district or more efficient operations, then it is worth it. But again, for individual curiosity or a purpose that has nothing to do with the mission of the district?
harry

Coopersburg, PA

#11 Mar 18, 2010
hurray.... someone who sees the big picture.
My Impressions wrote:
Haycock Dad, if teachers are coaches, then there is unit pay that is part of the contract (you may request and view the contract). I suspect that the same unit pay would be extended to coaches that do not teach based upon the several factors. Review the Personnel section of the minutes in the archives via the school board section of the web site for unit pay approvals when a coach is appointed/hired. I believe that last years' budget may have included the use of some volunteer coaches to reduce costs, but I would expect that teachers' would contractually receive unit pay and that volunteers would be community members or former players.
When you get beyond this, satisfying a curiosity becomes debatable when it comes to efficient use of resources.
The treasurers' report and bills are inches thick stacks of paper each month and this is what is considered a public document available to all for viewing. There is nothing in law that says staff must dedicate time to pull data from various resources to satisfy an individual's curiosity.
While the critics are the first to abhor inefficiency, they are often the first to expect many man hours pulling data from multiple sources to satisfy their own curiosity or even cherry pick and twist numbers to criticize. I don't believe that was your intention, but kindly note who encouraged you to insist on your right to have access to information.
When you talk about athletics and per student costs, you are referencing costs that will vary from year to year depending upon the number of students.
Uniforms will last more than one season. So, how to you spread the cost out across seasons? When bids are put out for "uniforms," it would likely be for more than Strayer football. The approval of bids for "athletic supplies" will be present in building minutes available in the archives and then you can ask to see the bills payable from that meeting, but again, detail down to Strayer football uniforms may very well require man hours to pull detail beyond what is in inches-thick reports.
Similarly, insurance costs are going to be a part of what you would consider athletic costs. Insurance policies cover buildings and athletics. I doubt the insurance statements have line items for each team in each building. Again, is it efficient to have administrative time spent to sit down with multiple sources of data, total the athletic programs or the time spent in the buildings and on the fields to determine the percentage of insurance costs attributed to football at Strayer?
You will have busing costs and again, digging into how many of those costs were connected to Strayer football would require time. Students from all fall sports will ride the late bus home so do you leave this out of your calculations? I don't believe records are kept of the activity that lead the student to use the late bus.
I believe that something as massive and public-based as a school district needs to apply practices as consistently as possible. If the practice was to satisfy every curiosity-based question down to the detail that was easy for the individual to generate and up to hundreds of man hours to answer, then staff would need to be dedicated to this. Is this serving the mission of an efficient system of public education?
In recent years, individuals on the school board embarked on curiosity through witch hunt-like inquiries and it got to the point that even board members had to have majority support from the board to get administrative time spent digging into details. If it makes for an academically stronger district or more efficient operations, then it is worth it. But again, for individual curiosity or a purpose that has nothing to do with the mission of the district?
harry

Coopersburg, PA

#12 Mar 18, 2010
hurray..... someone who sees the big picture.
CupCake

Columbus, OH

#13 Mar 18, 2010
Rumor has it the district wants to do a one to one laptop for students. Wonder how much extra that is going to cost the taxpayers and parents?
Seems the district can't decide on where to spend our tax dollars: Band uniforms, fixing the high school or giving students laptops.

Since: Mar 10

Location hidden

#14 Mar 18, 2010
Haycock Dad wrote:
<quoted text>
Thanks for your comments and perspective, they were helpful. Would you happen to know if current Middle School and Freshman coaches are compensated? And, if so, how much? Also, in past years, I've attempted to research the District cost of running such programs, with no success. Do you you know of any resource that could provide the total program cost, per child, of any given sports program. For example, how much does it cost per child for Strayer football? I'd be interested in those figures, and the comparison to the very reasonable costs of the QMFA.
You can look through past, archived meeting minutes from the School Board meetings. They show when changes are made to the coaching staff and their stipend, which is, I believe, between $2,000 to 4,000; somewhere in that vicinity.

Since: Mar 10

Location hidden

#15 Mar 18, 2010
TruthBeToldSellervilleISP wrote:
<quoted text>
Did you put it in writing and the QCSD administrators refused? More than a year is more than enough for any organization to answer a legal formal request. Oral, undocumented requests are as meaningful in the long run as our anonymous musings here.
Remember the entry in the minutes of the QCSD minutes where the suggestion for "double entry bookkeeping" was referred to as keeping "two sets of books"? Remember the many entries on these threads concerning the absurd notion that the QCSD purchase and use a well tested, professionally supported accounting system? You are reaping the results.
How a multi million dollar budget can be arrived at without knowledge of the component parts is no mystery: it's all new every year and its all up to whichever group is the most vocal and willing to support incumbants who will cow-tow to their demands.
My advice would be to rally your forces and show up at QCSD board meetings with kids (in uniforms, or with instruments, etc.) and call the press in and go for it!
Good luck!
What's the matter, Richard? Sour grapes because Dr. A was told to ignore your endless FoIA requests?

Showing up at meetings with kids in uniforms...just like you did the Carla Mercon and the Richland Township BOS meeting in 2005 to lobby for Veteran's Park?

Boo, hoo, Richard!
TruthBeToldSelle rvilleISP

Hatfield, PA

#16 Mar 19, 2010
Delusional, as usual.

Yes, show up with kids in sports uniforms with their parent support groups. Show up with kids with their instruments. Show up with sad kids wearing "Save the Haycock School" t-shirts. Show up with whatever support you can if you want to garner support from the QCSD Board for your pet project. They don't do long term planning and react to their constituents.

It worked in Richland because the group pledged money and had reasons to build the park that made sence. Yes, I am suggesting that it will work with the QCSD Board. That doesn't make me your nemesis.

You supported the music parents- remember? Even Dr. A wanted to drop one music teacher and the board caved to the parents instead.

Boo, hoo works with the QCSD.

Since: Mar 10

Location hidden

#17 Mar 19, 2010
TruthBeToldSellervilleISP wrote:
Delusional, as usual.
Yes, show up with kids in sports uniforms with their parent support groups. Show up with kids with their instruments. Show up with sad kids wearing "Save the Haycock School" t-shirts. Show up with whatever support you can if you want to garner support from the QCSD Board for your pet project. They don't do long term planning and react to their constituents.
It worked in Richland because the group pledged money and had reasons to build the park that made sence. Yes, I am suggesting that it will work with the QCSD Board. That doesn't make me your nemesis.
You supported the music parents- remember? Even Dr. A wanted to drop one music teacher and the board caved to the parents instead.
Boo, hoo works with the QCSD.
It worked for Richland because it was political patronage for two township volunteers who are staunch Orloff supporters.

Their "pledge" was a lie. They will NEVER be able to repay the township. Hetrick and DeMento-Mercon hoodwinked the taxpayers into paying for a pet project. Washington pork barrel spending on the local level.

By the way, Richard, did you get to cop a feel with one of the girls at the presentation?
TruthBeToldSelle rvilleISP

Hatfield, PA

#18 Mar 19, 2010
"My Impressions" regarding the lack of easily available information showing the cost of each extracurricular and other program within the QCSD budget is no surprise.

An efficient, computer based accounting program would produce the information about the cost/program with a few keystrokes. A reasonable fee can be charged for district generated information in response to a Right-to know request.

How are budget decisions now made if the cost of the programs the QCSD board is considering keeping, dropping or changing is unknown? When the decision to stop sending the band to away games on busses was decided, what data was used and where did it come from? How does the QCSD arrive at budget decisions without knowing the cost of each program?

The late bus expenses are contractual and don't change regardless of the number of students who hop aboard on any one evening or who have been at any particular after school activity- including studying at the library.

How is the QCSD budget constructed without facts about the cost of each component?
TruthBeToldSelle rvilleISP

Hatfield, PA

#19 Mar 19, 2010
"NotZKM"- again with your personal disgusting sexual fantasies regarding the phantom Woldow? You just cannot help yourself, can you? You are compelled by some sickness to pollute the threads with your illness. Yuck!

All Orloff/all Woldow all the time, eh, "NotZKM"?

Where did the absurd concept that the park is the result of "political patronage" arise? In June, 2007, Brian Kline wrote "In this election year, did the ruling majority on the Board of Supervisors feel it was necessary to create a constituency of soccer moms for their benefit - at the expense of taxpayers? "

OOPS! All THREE Supervisors voted in favor.

From June 11, 2007 R.T.BOSS meeting minutes:

IV. PRESENTATIONS
Presentation by the Park and Recreation Board concerning the veterans’ memorial proposed for Veterans Park
The Park and Recreation Board is seeking approval to have Boucher & James develop a master plan for a memorial to be constructed in Veterans Park. The work would be done on a time and materials basis with a budgetary amount of $7,000 to $7,500.
Ms. Carla Demuro-Mercon was present to discuss this issue with the BOS.

MOTION Mr. Orloff made a motion to authorize Proposal No. P0750030 approving Boucher & James to prepare a master plan for a Memorial Area to be located at Veterans Park as presented and requested. Mr. Zowniriw seconded the motion. Vote: All in favor. Motion carried unanimously.

ALL subsequent decisions about construction and financing of Memorial Park were voted on and approved unamiously by Staats, Orloff and Zowniriw.
DoraTheExplorer

AOL

#20 Mar 19, 2010
TruthBeToldSellervilleISP wrote:
"NotZKM"- again with your personal disgusting sexual fantasies regarding the phantom Woldow? You just cannot help yourself, can you? You are compelled by some sickness to pollute the threads with your illness. Yuck!
All Orloff/all Woldow all the time, eh, "NotZKM"?
Where did the absurd concept that the park is the result of "political patronage" arise? In June, 2007, Brian Kline wrote "In this election year, did the ruling majority on the Board of Supervisors feel it was necessary to create a constituency of soccer moms for their benefit - at the expense of taxpayers? "
OOPS! All THREE Supervisors voted in favor.
From June 11, 2007 R.T.BOSS meeting minutes:
IV. PRESENTATIONS
Presentation by the Park and Recreation Board concerning the veterans’ memorial proposed for Veterans Park
The Park and Recreation Board is seeking approval to have Boucher & James develop a master plan for a memorial to be constructed in Veterans Park. The work would be done on a time and materials basis with a budgetary amount of $7,000 to $7,500.
Ms. Carla Demuro-Mercon was present to discuss this issue with the BOS.
MOTION Mr. Orloff made a motion to authorize Proposal No. P0750030 approving Boucher & James to prepare a master plan for a Memorial Area to be located at Veterans Park as presented and requested. Mr. Zowniriw seconded the motion. Vote: All in favor. Motion carried unanimously.
ALL subsequent decisions about construction and financing of Memorial Park were voted on and approved unamiously by Staats, Orloff and Zowniriw.
I just think it's wonderful that you have verbatim copies of the minutes AND the tapes.

Saves you a lot of research doesn't it Richard. Borrow the money, suddenly realize you can't make a go of it, extend the payback to 20 years...how much a month is that!

Why didn't you in your infinite wisdom and wealth offer to pay for this debacle yourself.

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