The Neshaminy School Board unanimously approved the final 2012-2013 budget, which included no tax hike.
The final $165,244,541 budget was balanced by utilizing spending cuts and delays suggested by district administrators as well as borrowing about $5.5 million from the district's reserves, which would leave about $9.5 million in the district's savings.
One of the programs that survived the cuts was The Learning Center [TLC] program, which was due to Principal Joann Holland's presented to the board a decreased budget for the school. In order to move forward with this plan, which includes some staffing cuts, the Neshaminy Federation of Teachers had to agree to not file a grievance against the district in response.
NFT President Louise Boyd and School board President Ritchie Webb met prior to Tuesday's board meeting where she gave her approval of the plan. This meeting also served as a contract negotiation.
This meeting, Webb said, was a very professional meeting and both sides were able to share their thoughts. Webb also said that there were 12 items both sides agreed to from the arbitrator awards, which serve as a "starting point" for future negotiations. Both sides are scheduled to meet again July 5.
Most of the school board members thanked Boyd for her approval of the plan to help save TLC.
"We’re very grateful that she worked with us on this to get this through," Webb said.
TLC was a suggested program cut given to the board, which would have saved the district about $1.4 million next year.
A program that did not survive cuts is the middle schools' instructional opportunity period. The suggestion for "pay to play," a plan for students to pay to participate in sports and co-curricular programs, was not included in the final budget.
Also at Tuesday's school board meeting, the board approved a five-year charter for School Lane Charter School that would go into effect for the 2013-2014 school year. The board also approved a motion that would authorize talks between the district and School Lane for the potential sale of the old Eisenhower Elementary School on Woodborne Road in Middletown Township. The school will open first as a kindergarten through fifth grade school, with plans to eventually expand to 12th grade and teaching as many as 850 students.
This meeting was Louis Muenker's last as Neshaminy's superintendent. Many community members and board members thanked him for his more than 20 years of service for the district.
Since the district has not yet found Muenker's permanent replacement, the board appointed Neshaminy’s director of elementary and secondary education, Jacqueline Rattigan, as the acting superintendent for a period not to exceed one year -- which was a decision the community applauded.
Rattigan will be paid a salary of $155,000, which will be prorated for the length of her service. Phillyburbs reported that Rattigan has applied for the full-time job.