2017-01-10 Regular Legislative Meeting

   Permalink2017-01-10Live Recording


2017-01-10Regular Legislative Meeting MP3s

DateTrackWeb Link
2017-01-101Regular Legislative Meeting Part 1 of 1

2017-01-10Regular Legislative Meeting Selected Documents

DateWeb Link
2017-01-10Dec 2016 Exp Summary.pdf (44 KB)
2017-01-10Dec 2016 Rev.pdf (32 KB)
2017-01-10P225 Students and the Police First Read 12 13 2016.pdf (53 KB)
2017-01-10P121 Field Trips second first read 12 13 16 .pdf (59 KB)
2017-01-10P122 Extracurricular and Cocurricular Activities 2nd First Read 12 13 16 .pdf (93 KB)
2017-01-10January Stipened List.pdf (18 KB)
2017-01-10EDEP Agenda 1 10 17 Final.pdf (18 KB)
2017-01-10Volunteers January 2017.pdf (33 KB)
2017-01-10Budget Transfers .pdf (162 KB)

2017-01-03 Facilities and Finance Committee Meeting in 4 Separate Recordings

 Podmaster Notebook  Permalink2017-01-03Live Recording

Facilities Committee Meeting

Because of a last minute outbreak of cognitive slippage among the board members, this meeting ran later than normal. And as usual the most important points presented at the end. In this case, the most important point was the Five Year Facility Improvement Plan.

Five Year Facility Improvement Plan

Back in April of last year, the firm KCBA Architects presented their district facilities study to the board. They presented a matrix of major construction items as follows:

Name Description Total Project Cost Estimate
Elkins Park Option A Total renovation of existing building with a small addition (no work at administration building) $46,003,000
Elkins Park Option B Construction of a new Elkins Park School (on current school site) and renovation of a portion of the existing building to serve as a district administration building $47,333,000
Elkins Park Option C1 Construction of a new building housing a new Elkins Park School and new district administration office on current school site $48,861,000
Elkins Park Option C2 Construction of a new building housing a new Elkins Park School on current school site $38,538,000
Cheltenham HS Option A Renovation of the entire school to various degrees; construction of a new pool and locker room complex along the driveway leading to the stadium $67,576,000
Cheltenham HS Option B Renovation of the entire school to various degrees; construction of a new pool and locker room complex to the north of the existing pool $65,820,000
Cheltenham HS Option C New high school constructed south of the existing building along Rices Mill Road $111,644,000
Cheltenham HS Athletic Complex Renovation of the athletic complex at CHS including new track, synthetic fields , site amenities, and stormwater management system $8,658,770

So back to today's meeting: a "Five Year Facility Plan" was presented that presumably grew out of the KCBA study; however, the KCBA options that have been chosen that make up the plan were never revealed.

The total for the plan is over $83 million:

Type of Improvement Amount
Health/Safety/Code/Lavatory $3,036,000
Energy Management/HVAC $17,010,000
Capital Improvements $11,679,000
Security/Fire Alarm $765,000
Athletic Fields $1,189,200
Elkins Park School $50,000,000
Total $83,679,200

The Director of Facilities, Dr. Bavi, as well as the superintendent mentioned several times that this five year plan cost was reduced from the original cost of $151 Million. They did not state which of the KCBA options made up the $151 Million. Presumably the $151 million option included the construction of a new high school– the debt service for which would be a neutron bomb to the township's economy.

The second part of the meeting concerned the financing of the $83.7 million plan. The payout installments were listed as follows:

Year Amount
2017-2018 $14,262,000
2018-2019 $26,610,000
2019-2020 $34,387,000
2020-2021 $4,630,200
2021-2022 $3,790,000
Total $83,679,200

It was mentioned that presently approximately 10% of the budget is consumed by servicing the debt. By 2019-20, that figure will rise to 13%. In 2020 the annual debt payment would be $14.6 Million.

There are currently $10 Million in capital reserves with a committed/assigned fund balance of $9 Million. The maintenance of a "strong fund balance", at a level of 6% to 8% of budget, keeps the districts bond rating strong.

Presently Cheltenham School District debt carries a A– S&P rating. This allows the district to issue debt without the cost of bond insurance. However it was mentioned that the last time the district was downgraded, it was because the State of Pennsylvania was downgraded.

If Pennsylvania is downgraded again, the district's rating automatically goes down. So the district may be forced to buy bond insurance no matter how much money is tied up in the fund balance.

Cedarbrook Construction Update

The environmental contamination remediation effort is stalled because the contractor will not put in fill to cover the contaminated area until he is given assurance that his employees will not be affected.

Four Month Lease Gap at Ivy Hill

Because of Cedarbrook construction delays, there is a need to extend leases for the facilities at the current satellite locations. The new target date for the completion of the Cedarbrook project is January 2018.

Extension of the Ivy Hill lease has proven to be a problem: the landlord wants a minimum 1 year extension where the district only needs 4 months.

The district then looked at other properties and found nothing suitable available for short-term lease.

So the next option is to place the Ivy Hill students in other schools in the district.

The solutions looked at were:

  • One or more of the Elementary schools.
  • The High School.
  • Elkins Park Modulars.

The elementary schools do not have enough room to accommodate the Ivy Hill students. The High School could accommodate a second 8Th Grade class and the Elkins Park Modulars can accommodate the rest.

Cyber Option for Cheltenham

With the problem of finding places for Cedarbrook students at Ivy Hill, as well as the task of finding places for Elkins Park students when that construction starts, one would think that it would be helpful to offer parents a cyber option for educating students.

Even a small percentage of parents choosing a Cyber Option would help ease the burden of finding places for kids.

Back in March of 2013, The Cheltenham School Board approved a contract with a company called VLN Partners, LLP to provide an official school district "cyber option" for online instruction. No mention of this VLN Partners effort– or any type of cyber option– has been seen again at board meetings.

Of course, if the district's cyber offering did not match up to the competition (for example, see here or here or here or here etc…) it might lead to students leaving the "Cheltenham reservation". So it is not a surprise that nothing ever came of the VLN Partners effort.

Finance Committee Meeting
2017-18 Budget

The projected 2017-18 budget is presently in deficit to the tune of $2.9 Million; however it is highly preliminary and there are many factors to be worked out.

The maximum tax increase for this year is 2.5%. This translates to to an increase of 1.1274 mills to bring the rate up to 46.2217 Mills. For the Median assessment, ($144,290), this translates to a yearly tax bill of $6669.33.

Because of the structure of the teachers contract settlement, salary costs are increasing 5.1% over 2016-17. The PSERS rate (which is based on salaries) is increasing from 30% to 32.57%. In other words, if the district is paying a teacher $130,000 in salary and PSERS in 2016-17, the district will pay $139,331 in 2017-18.

2017-01-03Facilities and Finance Committee Meeting MP3s

DateTrackWeb Link
2017-01-031Facilities and Finance Committee Meeting Part 1 of 4
2017-01-032Facilities and Finance Committee Meeting Part 2 of 4
2017-01-033Facilities and Finance Committee Meeting Part 3 of 4
2017-01-034Facilities and Finance Committee Meeting Part 4 of 4

2017-01-03Facilities and Finance Committee Meeting Selected Documents

DateWeb Link
2017-01-03Facilities Presentation January 2017
2017-01-03Facilities Presentation Capital Projects Jan 2017
2017-01-03Financial Affairs Presentation Jan 2017

Release of 2015-16 State Building Level Academic Scores (BLAS)

Release of 2015-16 State Building Level Academic Scores (BLAS) Permalink2016-12-17Update


The state released the 2015-16 Building Level Academic Scores (BLAS) for all Cheltenham District schools. Last year only the high school received a BLAS score.

On the good news side, the high school has staged an impressive recovery from 66.5 in 2014-15 to 77.2 in 2015-16.

On the not-so-good-news side, apparently the continuing construction at Cedarbrook is taking a toll on performance: The BLAS for 2013-14 was an impressive 91.3 which has dropped to 65.8 in 2015-16.

While it can be understood that conditions at Cedarbrook can explain the drop in performance, the drop at Glenside Elementary (a new building) seems to throw doubt on the implication that new buildings equal higher test scores. Glenside Elementary scored an impressive 90.9 in 2013-14 while dropping down to 77.5 in 2015-16.

2016-12-17Building Level Academic Score 2012-2016


2016-12-13 Regular Legislative Meeting

 Podmaster Notebook  Permalink2016-12-13Live Recording

  • Employment Termination of Teacher Stacie Stoops
    • Last month's meeting was dominated by allegations that Teacher Stacie Stoops made racially disparaging comments in the classroom.
    • Many parents were in the audience last month.
    • On November 20Th, the district suspended Stoops.
    • The Philadelphia Inquirer reported that, "The teacher was discussing the election and the impact of a Trump presidency on the Black Lives Matter movement when she allegedly told students 'to stop bitching about being black'"
    • The solicitor's report mentioned that the Stoops dismissal will be contested by the teachers association. The case now goes to an independent arbitrator who has the final call.
    • At this meeting the board approved,"…. a detailed written statement of charges to Stacie Stoops….".
    • According to the the OpenPAGov.org database, Stacie Stoops is a secondary teacher in mathematics at the High School. She has a Master's degree and her salary was $81697.
    • During the public comment period Senator Art Haywood (husband of board member Julie Haywood) appeared before the board. The senator questioned the school district solicitor Mr. Roos as follows:

Sen. Haywood: "The main thing that brings me here is a comment I think I heard on TV regarding an employee who was dismissed and then is seeking arbitration." (To Mr. Roos). "Did you say anything about the incident that gave rise to the dismissal and arbitration ?"
Mr. Roos: "No."
Sen. Haywood: "Is this the same teacher who was allegedly making racial disparaging statements in the classroom ?"
Mr. Roos: "Yes. You are correct"
Sen. Haywood: "Now is the president of the teachers association– Is that Jack Kelly ?"
Mr. Roos: "Yes."
Sen. Haywood: "Has Jack Kelly been the president of the organization as far as you know…was he the president in the 2004 time-frame ?"
Mr. Roos: "I don't recall. I know there was a period of time when Mr. Kelly took a leave of absence."
Sen. Haywood:" A long time ago I was the leader of one of the black parent groups here. We asked to meet with the teachers union— I think it was a Jack Kelly— who said he didn't want to talk to us about the achievement gap. You wouldn't have any recollection of that ?"
Mr. Roos: "I'm afraid I do not.
Sen. Haywood:"Well….Are you aware of any legislation of another state, another locality, that would increase the capacity of the school district to discourage these kinds of arbitration ?"
Mr. Roos: "Not anything specific. Pennsylvania has historically had pretty strong protections in place— especially for teachers with tenure. But I know Pennsylvania laws are more robust than other states as far as protecting teachers rights."
Sen. Haywood: "If we could change the law, we could significantly change the dynamic."
Mr. Roos: "Yes there are changes that we could make…to the school code that could give the school board a little more authority in terms of termination of professional employees."
Sen. Haywood:"OK. So I would like to receive that information so that we can put together a legislative solution."
Mr. Roos: "Sure."
Sen. Haywood: "Thank You."

  • Questions regarding the Cedarbrook Environmental Issues
    • A member of the public, Christina Jorge Schwarz, questioned the board regarding the environmental contamination at the Cedarbrook construction site.
    • She identified herself as an environmental consultant from Glenside, and also mentioned that she is a former employee of Lagan— the company that is performing the study at Cedarbrook.
    • The board was voting on the second option for dealing with the problem: Capping the Site and Deed Notice with Environmental Covenant.
    • She mentioned that the contaminant, PAH, is a probable human carcinogen.
    • While there are savings with the capping option, there are other possible hidden costs such as insurance increases.
    • No report regarding the site has been issued yet by Lagan.
    • She requested that the vote be tabled until the report is received.
    • The Superintendent replied that the district has all the data supporting the decision.
    • Lagan Engineer Shaun David mentioned that PAH is not an indoor air concern, and that there would be long-term monitoring.
    • Facilities Director Dr. Bavi stated that insurance would not cover any of the cleanup cost.

2016-12-13Regular Legislative Meeting MP3s

DateTrackWeb Link
2016-12-131Regular Legislative Meeting

2016-12-13Regular Legislative Meeting Selected Documents

DateWeb Link
2016-12-13Nov 2016 Exp Summary.pdf (42 KB)
2016-12-13Nov 2016 Revenue.pdf (32 KB)
2016-12-13P112 Guidance and Counseling Second Read 12 13 2016.pdf (49 KB)
2016-12-13P121 Field Trips second first read 12 13 16 .pdf (59 KB)
2016-12-13P122 Extracurricular and Cocurricular Activities 2nd First Read 12 13 16 .pdf (90 KB)
2016-12-13P127 Assessment of Ed. Program Second Read 12 13 2016.pdf (51 KB)
2016-12-13P225 Students and the Police First Read 12 13 2016.pdf (49 KB)
2016-12-13EDEP Agenda 12 13 16 Final.pdf (19 KB)
2016-12-132016-2017 Stipend List December 2016 (1).pdf (17 KB)
2016-12-13Volunteers December 2016.pdf (28 KB)
2016-12-13Budget Transfers (7).pdf (182 KB)

2016-12-06 Finance and Facilities Committee Meeting in 4 Separate Recordings

 Podmaster Notebook  Permalink2016-12-06Live Recording

  • Special Board Meeting Notes
    • It was announced that a settlement has been reached with the Cheltenham Educator's Association.
    • A fact finder from the state was involved in the negotiations. The district and union accepted the fact finder's report as a basis of a settlement.
    • There was no fact-finder's report posted on the Pennsylvania Labor Relations Board website as of 12/10. The school district did not disclose terms in its joint statement with the union.
    • So, it is not known what type of increases township taxpayers will be on the hook for.
  • Finance Committee Meeting Notes
    • Review of FY 2015-16
      • 2015-16 ended with a surplus of $1,244,001 over budget.
      • The surplus was due to excess revenues coming in, not in any great success in cost control.
      • One of the cost drivers mentioned were "High cost special education students."
      • At the beginning of 2015-16, the fund balance was $16.4 Million.
    • Snapshot of 2017-18 Budget
      • The discussion of the recent CTA contract indicated that it would not exceed the 2017-18 budgeted amount.
      • So far for 2016-17, expenses have run to $44,766,590 which is 41.67% of budget while 74.89% of revenues are in at $80,468,003.
      • The county certified assessment value of all Cheltenham property was reported as $1,860,790,880.
      • The recently approved opt-out tax increase will yield a maximum of $2,013,865 at the limit of 2.5%.
    • Tax Collector Compensation
      • At the beginning of the meeting I recognized the Cheltenham Township tax collector in the audience. Between the two committee meetings he was having a heated discussion with the district finance chief Cara Michaels.
      • Board President Bill England stated that the elected Cheltenham Township tax collector "came here to complain about what he is getting paid…" by the district for school tax collection.
      • He mentioned that the board would look into what competitor tax collectors get paid in surrounding communities.
  • Facilities Committee Meeting Notes
    • Cedarbrook Elevator Shaft Contamination Issues.
      • The main point of interest for this meeting was the presentation by Langan Environmental Regarding Elevator Shaft Contamination discovered at the Cedarbrook Construction Site.
      • The main contaminant is "PAH" which does not seem to migrate.
      • Groundwater impacts of the contamination are still being assessed.
      • Langan outlined two options to handle the problem:
        1. Excavation and Offsite Disposal of the Site
        2. Capping the Site and Deed Notice/Environmental Covenant
      • Option 1: Excavation and Offsite Disposal of the Site
        • This solution would require that utilities in the area to be stabilized and the contaminated soil would be removed and transported to a disposal site.
        • It would take several month's time to complete with resulting delays to the Cedarbrook project.
        • The estimated cost would be over $540K.
      • Option 2: Capping the Site and Deed Notice/Environmental Covenant
        • This option would "cap" the contaminated material under the new school building and by additional clean topsoil.
        • It would require that the property deed be modified to include notice that contamination is present on the property.
        • There would be only a 1 week delay in the Cedarbrook construction.
        • There would be long-term monitoring and maintenance required of the "capped" area.
        • In areas where the new Cedarbrook building does not serve as a cap, a "soil cap" will be created with additional top soil and trees.
        • Annual reports would have to be filed with the state.
        • The immediate cost is a fraction of the previous option $10K to $45K.
      • The board took a straw vote to select which option they prefer: Option 2 won the vote unanimously.
    • Cedarbrook Construction Update
      • The geothermal project has completed drilling 205 of 210 wells. The next phase of this task is piping.
    • Cheltenham High School Modular Classroom and Lavatory Renovations
      • This meeting item was to approve an architect to begin work on the project.
      • This project took at least one board member by surprise, since there was no discussion of it at the last Facilities Committee meeting.
      • The project itself is to modify three classrooms and an office area, renovation of 3 lavatories and renovation of the modular building.
      • There was only one bid on this project: KCBA at $137,950.
      • The project itself is estimated to cost between $3-$3.5 Million.
    • Cheltenham High School Gymnasium Renovation
      • This meeting item was to allow the Facilities Department to solicit architect bids for Cheltenham High School gymnasium renovation.
      • This project involves the renovation the entire gymnasium area: New bleachers, New flooring system, New sound system, New roof system, New HVAC/electrical.
      • The superintendent mentioned several times that there are "over 200 leaks" over the gym floor. One wonders: how do you count each individual leak ? Do they get barcoded and entered into School Dude ?

2016-12-06Finance and Facilities Committee Meeting MP3s

DateTrackWeb Link
2016-12-061Facilities Committee Meeting Part 1 of 3
2016-12-062Facilities Committee Meeting Part 2 of 3
2016-12-063Facilities Committee Meeting Part 3 of 3
2016-12-064Finance Committee Meeting

2016-12-06Finance and Facilities Committee Meeting Selected Documents

DateWeb Link
2016-12-06 J. Kelly Teacher Contract Statement
2016-12-06Financial Affairs Dec 2016
2016-12-06Facilities Committee Report Dec 2016
2016-12-06Cedarbrook Rebuild Update Dec 2016

2016-11-15 Regular Legislative Meeting in 3 Separate Recordings

 Podmaster Notebook  Permalink2016-11-15Live Recording


This was a very crowded meeting, with many parents in the audience. The reason for the crowd was not formally on the agenda. The superintendent's report explained the reason why: an incident where a district teacher may have used "hurtfull words" with a student was described. Since this matter was not on the agenda, parents in the audience had to wait through the entire meeting before they could comment on the situation.

Because the matter is under investigation, there was not much the board could say or do besides listen to parents describe their experiences with district staff where "inflammatory and racially charged" language was used.

In the middle of all this, the Montgomery County Planning Commission presented the same lengthy and unabridged demographic study presentation that was heard in the Finance Committee Meeting. Unfortunately, the many families that came to make comments regarding the alleged racial incident started to get impatient when the presentation droned on and on. A comment that "they always do this when we have something to say" was overheard in the audience.

In other news, the board approved the opt out resolution which guarantees that the district will limit any tax increase to an amount below the Act 1 index of 2.5%. This vote was unanimous.

2016-11-15Regular Legislative Meeting MP3s

DateTrackWeb Link
2016-11-151Regular Legislative Meeting Part 1 of 3
2016-11-152Regular Legislative Meeting Part 2 of 3
2016-11-153Regular Legislative Meeting Part 3 of 3

2016-11-15Regular Legislative Meeting Selected Documents

DateWeb Link
2016-11-15 Agenda
2016-11-15Oct 2016 Revenue.pdf (61 KB)
2016-11-15Oct 2016 Exp Summary .pdf (75 KB)
2016-11-15P127 Assessment of Ed. Program 11 3 16 First Read(01334723xAED82).pdf (53 KB)
2016-11-15P112 Guidance and Counseling 11 3 16 First Read(01334705xAED82) (1).pdf (52 KB)
2016-11-15P122 Extracurricular and Cocurricular Activities 11 3 16 First Read (01334761xAED82).pdf (90 KB)
2016-11-15P109 School Library 11 3 16 First Read(01334683xAED82).pdf (86 KB)
2016-11-15P121 Field Trips 11 3 16 First Read(01334741xAED82).pdf (58 KB)
2016-11-152016-2017 Stipend List November 2016 (3).pdf (16 KB)
2016-11-15Agenda 11 15 2016 EDEP Final (1).pdf (25 KB)
2016-11-15Volunteers November 2016 (1).pdf (30 KB)
2016-11-15Budget Transfers (6).pdf (725 KB)

2016-11-01 Facilities and Finance Committee Meeting in 4 Separate Recordings

 Podmaster Notebook  Permalink2016-11-01Live Recording

  • Finance Committee Notes
    • Act 1 Opt Out Resolution for November Regular Meeting
      • The best news of this meeting came at the end: a resolution to Opt Out of any tax increases above the Act 1 index (2.5%) is proposed to be approved at the next regular meeting.
      • An Act 1 increase of 2.5% would raise the millage rate to 46.2217.
      • There was mention by the finance director that the recent relatively modest tax increases by Cheltenham, coupled by above average increases by other districts in Montgomery County, mean that they are "catching up" to Cheltenham.
      • I used the tax rate tables obtained by retrieving the Montgomery County website using the Internet Archive Wayback Machine to create the chart of Montgomery County School Tax rates for all listed municipalities: Clearly no other community is suicidal enough to challenge Cheltenham's position of having the highest school tax. Indeed, the only way for the county to "catch up" to Cheltenham would be for several years of tax cuts in Cheltenham.
      • There was some question of how it is possible to "opt out" at this time before a teacher contract has been signed. Another school board member questioned how the "opt out" resolution can be considered before we know how much it will cost to perform all the educational services required of the community.
      • Thankfully, the majority of the board members recognize the economic burden that is already placed on Cheltenham and support the Opt Out resolution.
    • Montgomery Planning Commission Enrollment Projection
      • The board received the Montgomery Planning Commission Enrollment Projection study. The enrollment was projected out to the year of 2016-26.
      • There were three scenarios presented:
        1. Base Future Estimate
        2. Higher Future Estimate
        3. Higher Future Estimate with Housing Adjustment
      • Like most studies of its kind, the MCPC estimates are straight line projections based on recent experience. Given the high likelihood of another economic crisis in the order of 2008-9, it would be expected that some mention of future economic factors would be discussed. They weren't.
      • Only under the most aggressive Option 3 projection, the total number of students would match the number enrolled in the late 90's.
      • Back in January of 2015, this website carried the chart of the "Cheltenham Cross" School enrollment versus school taxes. The chart covered 1998 to 2014.
      • There was some discussion of the impact of private schools on enrollment levels. Basically, there is not a way to ensure good data on private students other than those that the district provides transportation for.
    • Bond Financing Presentation
      • Mr. Brad Remig provided the board with an update on the forthcoming bond issuance activity.
      • In 2016 the district borrowed $32 million for the Cedarbrook project.
      • The principle activity for 2017 was refinancing existing bonds to a lower rate.
      • In the year 2040, ten percent of the budget will be devoted to debt service.
      • Since refinancing will be occurring in 2017, no new money can be borrowed until 2018.
      • Cheltenham's rating is AA-. With this rating, there is no need to purchase bond insurance.
      • There will be a "parameters resolution" on next weeks legislative agenda to authorize the 2017 refinancing activity.
      • The documents provided to the board were not shared with the public because of the proprietary nature of a public bond issuance; however, no summary of bond activity was provided to the public.
  • Facilities Committee Notes
    • Cedarbrook Construction Update
      • The main issue of concern is the continuing study of the environmental problems caused by soil contamination around the unshielded Cedarbrook elevator shaft.
      • It was mentioned that 55 gallons of oil was removed from the elevator shaft.
      • Over the years oil from the elevator system had leaked into the surrounding soil.
      • Testing has occurred in "phases" which equates to the distance from the contamination site that effects have been measured.
      • The 3rd phase testing has been completed, and the director of facilities is waiting on the report.
      • The 3rd phase test report will include recommendations on how to move forward.
      • In subsequent discussion it was mentioned that this problem may require substantial excavation to remove the contaminated soil.
      • This issue is increasing the uncertainty that the school will reopen on 9/17. Plans are being made for this scenario.
    • "School Dude" Software
      • This software is used to manage building maintenance.
      • A question was raised about one of the tracking features ("Dirty Sock Syndrome" in Wyncote Elementary), but it was felt it was a typo of some kind.
    • High School Track
      • Parents and coach brought up the topic of the high school track which was not on the agenda.
      • The issue is that any work on the track may have to be undone when other projects are undertaken.

2016-11-01Facilities and Finance Committee Meeting MP3s

DateTrackWeb Link
2016-11-011Facilities and Finance Committee Meeting Part 1 of 4
2016-11-012Facilities and Finance Committee Meeting Part 2 of 4
2016-11-013Facilities and Finance Committee Meeting Part 3 of 4
2016-11-014Facilities and Finance Committee Meeting Part 4 of 4

2016-11-01Facilities and Finance Committee Meeting Selected Documents

DateWeb Link
2016-20052016-2005 Montco Millage Rates School Tax Spreadsheet
2016-20052016-2005 Montco Millage Rates School Tax Chart
2005 Montco Website Wayback Machine Capture: 20051215
2006 Montco Website Wayback Machine Capture: 20061105
2007 Montco Website Wayback Machine Capture: 20070728
2008 Montco Website Wayback Machine Capture: 20081019
2009 Montco Website Wayback Machine Capture: 20090217
2010 Montco Website Wayback Machine Capture: 20100823
2011 Montco Website Wayback Machine Capture: 20110727
2012 Montco Website Wayback Machine Capture: 20120620
2013 Montco Website Wayback Machine Capture: 20130806
2014 Montco Website Wayback Machine Capture: 20140909
2015 Montco Website Wayback Machine Capture: 20150910
2016 Montco Website Wayback Machine Capture: 20160721
2016-11-01Facilities Committee November 2016 Presentation
2016-11-01Facilitites Committee OCT 2016

2016-10-18 Regular Legislative Meeting in 2 Separate Recordings

 Podmaster Notebook  Permalink2016-10-18Live Recording


The regular meeting business opened with a statement by the superintendent regarding the status of the contract negotiations with the teachers union. The key news item from that statement was that both parties will be contacted by the state mediator soon.

To review, in 2014 the union agreed to a 2 year extension of the 2011 contract. It is that extension that expired this year.

On October 19, 2011, Nearly 5 years ago to the day of today's meeting, State Mediator John M. Skonier issued a fact-finding report that helped settle the last negotiated contract (http://bit.ly/2dyhrmd).

Mr. Skonier's words from 2011– written when the PSERS Employer Contribution Rate was 5.64%– are still timely: particularly since the PSERS rate has more than quadrupled to 25.84% for 2015/16:

The record reveals that, among the 21 comparable school districts, the taxing effort of the District is high.

The current economic climate and the fiscal constraints facing school districts today are unprecedented. The country is in the grips of a major recession and revenue sources are dwindling. Compounding this situation is the effect of Act 1 on the ability of a district to raise revenues and the decreased market values of real property, the primary source of tax revenues for a school district. In addition, districts are facing a looming crisis presented by the expanding costs of PSERS. While this is certainly not the fault of the Association or the District, it is the current situation in which we find ourselves.

These challenges require innovative approaches to bargaining. There must be a balancing between ever increasing health care costs and the limited economic resources available in the foreseeable future. In view of this, the salary schedules recommended must be seen in tandem with the health care recommendations as a part of a "package" that, hopefully, will lead to a contract.

In other news, The Cedarbrook project required the approval of two change orders, for foundation wall improvements (approx $168K) and continuing study of the soil around an elevator shaft that was discovered to be contaminated. The study purpose is to determine the extent of environmental contamination ($56.4K).

The Liaison Committee reported a few items of interest:

  • The township library system is requesting a financial contribution from the district which was stopped because of budget shortfalls.
  • The township pools are over 50 years old and are in need of upgrades. The township will be applying to the state for funding.
  • The township is in contract negotiation with police and public works employee unions.
  • Due to increasing incidents with the deer population, a company called "Abington Deer Management" was hired to cull the deer herd. The company will use archery, not firearms on public land. The will not enter any private land. The company uses licensed and certified archers and the deer meat goes to public shelters.

The district continues to send presumably trained staff to conferences in the hopes that it improves academic performance. Here is this month's conference roundup (total known cost is $10864.74):

  • Apple Education Trainer Certification in Norristown (3 people @ $435.00)
  • Eastern Pennsylvania Ed Administrators Conference in Hershey PA (No Estimate Given)
  • Wilson Foundation Training Level K in Norristown PA (3 people @ $389.75)
  • Strategic Agility in Practice in New York, NY (1 person @ $1655.00)
  • National Council of Teachers of Mathematics in Philadelphia, PA (1 person @ $325.00)
  • The Attendance / Child Accounting Professional Association Fall Conference in Hershey, PA (2 people @ $1103)
  • Open Resources Conference in Norristown, PA (1 person @ $495.00)
  • PA Positive Behavioral Support Universal Training in Norristown PA (1 person @ $459)
  • Innovator's Mindset Workshop in Downingtown, PA (1 person @ $475.00 )
  • PA Association for Gifted Education in Harrisburg PA (1 person @ $756.16)
  • Mindfulness for Educators Conference in Cambridge, MA (1 person @ $2,798.81 )

In comments at the end of the meeting, a mother of a Glenside Elementary student complained that equipment that was independently donated to the school by parents was thrown onto the roof of the school by a Glenside Elementary playground monitor. She also stated that that the parents had put in several work orders and asked staff to bring the equipment down. The equipment is reportedly still on the roof.

2016-10-18Regular Legislative Meeting MP3s

DateTrackWeb Link
2016-10-181Regular Legislative Meeting Part 1 of 2
2016-10-182Regular Legislative Meeting Part 2 of 2

2016-10-18Regular Legislative Meeting Selected Documents

DateWeb Link
2016-10-18Sept 2016 Exp Summary 2.pdf (64 KB)
2016-10-18Sept 2016 Rev.pdf (31 KB)
2016-10-18Tenure List 2016-2017.pdf (11 KB)
2016-10-18Agenda 10 18 16 EDEP Final.pdf (62 KB)
2016-10-182016-2017 Leadership Stipend List (1).pdf (32 KB)
2016-10-182016-2017 Mentor Stipend List (1).pdf (25 KB)

2016-09-13 Regular Legislative Meeting

 Podmaster Notebook  Permalink2016-09-13Live Recording


At the beginning of the meeting, a statement was made by the board to the effect that there is no settlement in contract negotiations with the Cheltenham Teachers Association.

Another notable point from this meeting was the quiet jettison of the plan to put the district's legal services out to bid. At the Finance committee meeting Back in June 7th, there were detailed plans to issue a Request For Proposal (RFP) for school district legal services from a variety of bidders. The plan was to extend the present legal services contract with Wisler Pearlstine, LLP into summer and issue the RFP in September.

Suddenly, the district announced at this meeting that: "The administration recommends the approval of Wisler Pearlstine, LLP to provide general and special education legal services for the fiscal year 2016-2017, with an option to renew up to four (4) years at the annual base compensation of $27,600 and the hourly rates as attached."

There was no mention of any bidding process or that Wisler Pearlstine, LLP was the lowest qualified bidder. So much for competitive bidding at Cheltenham.

By the way, Here are the posted legal services hourly rates:

  • Partners: $180/hour
  • Senior Education Law Attorneys: $180.00/hour
  • Associate Attorneys: $160.00/hour
  • Education Specialist: $110.00/hour
  • Assessment Specialist: $100.00/hour
  • Paralegal: $90.00/hour

On a separate topic, another trend in school board reporting is to include an item on the meeting agenda with the phrase, "as attached" with no attachment included with the BoardDocs public agenda. For this meeting, I list the following such missing attachments:

Missing Attachments for 20160913 Regular Meeting
Missing: The "attached" agreement with Avalon Foundation.
Missing: The Edmentum Assessment services Quotation for $39,416.66 2 yr extension.
Missing: The Quinn Developments Services Contract: No amount or duration listed.
Missing: The Renaissance Learning for technology services $54,621.28 Quote

2016-09-13Regular Legislative Meeting MP3s

DateTrackWeb Link
2016-09-131Regular Legislative Meeting Part 1 of 1

2016-09-13Regular Legislative Meeting Selected Documents

DateWeb Link
2016-09-13Aug 2016 Rev
2016-09-13Aug 2016 Exp Summary
2016-09-13Volunteers - September 2016
2016-09-13Solicitor Hourly Rates

Thank You Myron



In what has been called, unprecedented win for Pennsylvania taxpayers, a judge has forced the Lower Merion School District to cancel its last tax increase because of deceptive and misleading budget reporting. Lower Merion SD projected large budget deficits while in reality the district was sitting on millions of surplus dollars. The district had planned to increase taxes by 4.4%.

In Cheltenham Township, former school board member Myron Goldman was on our district's case regarding the hidden build-up of reserve funds for many years. Myron is a former math teacher at Masterman. He is the math teacher you wish you had.

When former district Business Manager Matt Malinowski left, the district changed direction and opened the books. New finance chief Cara Michaels has kept the books open and as a result, the projected tax increase of 2.4% for this year has been reduced, with money from the fund balance used to make up the difference.

Thank you Myron for those many late night questions that you kept asking about numbers that didn't add up….This year they finally did.