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2016-01-12 Regular Legislative Meeting Agenda Notes

Permalink2016-01-12Agenda Notes

 

2016-01-12Regular Legislative Meeting Agenda Notes

Unfortunately due to a scheduling conflict the 1/12/2016 meeting was not recorded. The most notable items on the agenda:

  • Leadership Stipend Positions: Section 11A, Item 10 on the agenda, "recommends the approval of professional personnel per the attachment for leadership positions for the 2015-2016 school year, at the rates listed"; however, there is no attachment on the agenda. We have emailed the district to obtain a copy.
  • Conference-based Remedial Training: The school district is pursuing remedial training of staff through conferences. Presumably this is an effort to boost the latest test results. In Section 11B,Item 1, the following out-of-state conferences were listed:
Conference City URL People Total Cost
PLC Solution Tree Summit Phoenix, AZ link 4 $8340.5
Leading for Excellence Conference Phoenix, AZ link 3 $5028.12
Powerschool University Orlando, FL link 3 $11583.8
TOTAL for OUT-OF-STATE Conferences     10 $24952.42
  • In-house Remedial Training: In addition to sending staff to conferences, the district has signed a contract with A Fishman Consulting, LLC for a maximum amount of $19,000 to "continue the professional development workshops with staff."
  • Assessment Appeal Activity:Section 11B, Item 7 approved funds to hire a law firm to fight the real estate tax appeal of 2727 Cheltenham Avenue. A quick Google shows this to be a Walgreens. Item 8 of the same section approved funds to hire an appraiser in connection to the real estate tax appeal of Yorktown Plaza.

2016-01-12Regular Legislative Meeting Selected Documents

DateWeb Link
2016-01-12Dec 2015 Revenue
2016-01-12Dec 2015 Exp Summary
2016-01-12Agenda 1 12 16 EDEP Final
2016-01-12Volunteer Clearances -January 2016(2)
2016-01-12Budget Transfers

2016-01-05 Finance and Facilities Committee Meetings in 3 Separate Recordings

Permalink2016-01-05Live Recording

 
20160105 Facilities and Finance Committee Highlights
  • Finance Meeting Notes:
    • Governor Wolf finally released tax money (which was still collected during the budget standoff) to the school districts. Cheltenham received $5.9 Million on the day of the meeting.
    • The state contributes 20% of Cheltenham's budget.
    • For the 2016-17 projected budget, there is a deficit of $1.8 Million.
    • Expenses for 2016-17 are projected at $107.4 Million.
    • The PSERS rate has increased from 25.84% to 30.03% and is a major piece of the budget hole.
    • Other expense increases are in the area of professional development and special education.
    • The Cheltenham Township Finance Officer Mr. Burns stated that business privilege tax revenue is most likely to go down since the Pathmark has closed and Lincoln Financial is leaving the township.
    • The deadline for the budget is May 31, 2016.
    • The CEA contract expires June 30, 2016.
  • Facilities Meeting Notes:
    • Highlights from Dr. Bavi's Presentation:
      • It has been over a year since Cedarbrook has been closed.
      • Cedarbrook exterior walls were found to have been improperly insulated from the beginning: The insulation shielded only the bottom portion of the walls. This cost an incalculable amount in wasted energy.
      • There has been issues of illegal dumping at Cedarbrook.
      • There have also been issues of vandalism and theft, in particular copper flashing has been stolen twice.
      • In addition to the private security company patrolling the site, and beefed up patrols by Township Police, Dr. Bavi himself makes periodic random inspections.
      • The total cost of the Cedarbrook asbestos removal project was $507K.
    • Turner Construction Briefing on Cedarbrook "90%" Estimate:
      • There was no PowerPoint of this presentation and presumably none will be available to the public.
      • The cost estimate breakdown (+/- 5%) presented at the meeting is as follows:
Item Estimated Cost
Construction Bids $46.9 Million
Soft Costs $5.7 Million
Renovation of Fields w/ Irrigation work $1.4 Million
Financing Cost $0.8 Million
TOTAL $54.8 Million

2016-01-05Finance and Facilities Committee Meeting MP3s

DateTrackWeb Link
2016-01-051Facilities Committee Meeting Part 1 of 2
2016-01-052Facilities Committee Meeting Part 2 of 2
2016-01-053Finance Committee Meeting

2016-01-05Finance and Facilities Committee Meeting Selected Documents

Note that the last time minutes were posted for the Facilities Committee and Finance Committee was October of 2014.

DateWeb Link
2016-01-05Jan 2016 Finance Committee Presentation
2016-01-05Jan 2016 Facilities Committee Presentation

Holidays can be a sad time for Cheltenham Families and Businesses

Permalink2015-12-21Update

 

2015-12-21Cheltenham School District Tax Liens

The Holidays can be a stressful time for normal folks. It is especially stressful if you are hauled into court to pay your school tax bill. The following table lists the current pending tax liens for the Cheltenham School District (Click on the "Continue without logging in" link to view the case.):

Pending Tax Liens for Cheltenham School District: 10/10/2015-12/21/2015
Case NumberCase Number
Case 201023617 Case 201026920
Case 201027938 Case 201028188
Case 201028192 Case 201028376
Case 201028379 Case 201028694
Case 201029140 Case 201030451
Case 201030546 Case 201031388
Case 201031981 Case 201031982
Case 201032054  

2015-12-08 Regular Legislative Meeting: 2016-17 Tax Increase Limited

Permalink2015-12-08Live Recording

 

The board adopted the resolution that they will not apply for any waivers to increase 2016-17 taxes over the Act 1 index limit of 2.4%. Your podmaster can't help but wonder whether or not the recent release of abysmal High School test scores had something to do with this action....

DateTrackWeb Link
2015-12-081Regular Legislative Meeting Part 1 of 1

2015-12-08Regular Legislative Meeting Selected Documents

DateWeb Link
2015-12-08Nov 2015 Revenue
2015-12-08Nov 2015 Exp Summary
2015-12-08Volunteer Clearances - December 2015 (1)
2015-12-08Agenda 12 08 15 EDEP Final (3)
2015-12-08Volunteer Clearances - December 2015
2015-12-0815-16 Budget Transfers

2015-12-01 Facilities and Finance Committee Meetings in 2 Separate Recordings

Permalink2015-12-01Live Recording

 

Your podmaster recommends the Financial Affairs meeting where a menu of financial good and bad news was on offer.

On the good news side, the administration recommended to the board that any tax increase for 2016-17 be kept below the Act 1 index limit of 2.4%. A 2.4% increase equates to 1.068 mills pushing the budget to over $106 million. Of course, unless a wave of other school districts in our area apply for waivers to increase above the Act 1 Index, Cheltenham will still have the highest school tax rate in Montgomery County.

On the bad news side, The preliminary 2015 audit presentation detailed the impact of a recent change in accounting practices (GASB 68) designed to bring government bookkeeping in line with the private sector. Specifically, the state has forced local school districts to carry their share of the state's pension liability on their books.

The result of the change is that $140 Million of the state pension debt has been assigned to Cheltenham's balance sheet. The district has dived deep into the red with a 2015 deficit of $99 million. To give an idea of the change it should be noted that a surplus of nearly $38 million was reported in 2014. The finance director indicated that there is no real impact on operations caused by this change.

The real question is: what is the effect of GASB 68 at the local level when a state declares bankruptcy ? Do state creditors hold the locality directly responsible for the assigned portion of their debt if the state cannot pay ?

The question is timely in that the US Supreme Court agreed this week to hear the Puerto Rico debt restructuring case.

While Puerto Rico is not a state, whatever decision is made in the case will surely affect heavily indebted states like Pennsylvania.

The Governor of Puerto Rico, Alejandro Garcia Padilla, has stated that the $72 billion public debt is unpayable and needs restructuring. His restructuring plan calls for further consolidation of public schools, with some 135 closures already implemented.

So will Puerto Rico local governments be forced to pay for their share of state-assigned debt ? If so and if Pennsylvania goes bankrupt, Cheltenham may find that the $99 million deficit we were told "not to worry about" is real and will force the closure of some of our newly-built schools.

DateTrackWeb Link
2015-12-011Facilities Committee Meeting
2015-12-012Finance Committee Meeting

20151127 Montgomery County High School Comparison: Cheltenham HS in the Cellar

Permalink2014-08-05update

 

The value delivered by our public High Schools can be thought of as the ratio of the measured test performance of that school and the taxes that it takes to attain that performance.

I combined the recently released 2015-14 state test results (available in raw format at this link) with the Montgomery County tax rate table (available at this link) to determine how Cheltenham compares in terms of value with the other districts in Montgomery County. The full spreadsheet is available below.

In terms of value, Cheltenham High School is at the bottom of the barrel. In terms of the percentage difference between Cheltenham High School's test scores and the township's tax rate Cheltenham is deep in the cellar with no relief in sight:

Montgomery County Tax Rate Table: Cheltenham Value Compared To Other Municipalities.
Municipality High School 2015 School Tax Mills 2013-14 High School Academic score School Tax Mills PERCENT BELOW Cheltenham Rate Academic Score PERCENT ABOVE Cheltenham Score
Municipality High School 2015 School Tax Mills 2013-14 High School Academic score School Tax Mills PERCENT BELOW Cheltenham Rate Academic Score PERCENT ABOVE Cheltenham Score
Ambler Wissahickon SHS 18.261 101.8 58.98% 53.08%
Lower Gwynedd Wissahickon SHS 18.261 101.8 58.98% 53.08%
Whitpain Wissahickon SHS 18.261 101.8 58.98% 53.08%
Narberth Harriton SHS 26.2321 98.8 41.07% 48.57%
Lower Merion Harriton SHS 26.2321 98.8 41.07% 48.57%
Collegeville Perkiomen Valley HS 30.87 98.6 30.65% 48.27%
Schwenksville Perkiomen Valley HS 30.87 98.6 30.65% 48.27%
Trappe Perkiomen Valley HS 30.87 98.6 30.65% 48.27%
Lower Frederick Perkiomen Valley HS 30.87 98.6 30.65% 48.27%
Skippack Perkiomen Valley HS 30.87 98.6 30.65% 48.27%
Lansdale North Penn SHS 23.6223 97.6 46.93% 46.77%
North Wales North Penn SHS 23.6223 97.6 46.93% 46.77%
Hatfield North Penn SHS 23.6223 97.6 46.93% 46.77%
Montgomery North Penn SHS 23.6223 97.6 46.93% 46.77%
Towamencin North Penn SHS 23.6223 97.6 46.93% 46.77%
Upper Gwynedd North Penn SHS 23.6223 97.6 46.93% 46.77%
Lower Providence Methacton HS 27.9 95 37.33% 42.86%
Worcester Methacton HS 27.9 95 37.33% 42.86%
Bridgeport Upper Merion HS 18.96 93.9 57.41% 41.20%
West Conshohocken Upper Merion HS 18.96 93.9 57.41% 41.20%
Upper Merion Upper Merion HS 18.96 93.9 57.41% 41.20%
Conshohocken Plymouth-Whitemarsh SHS 20.5125 90.5 53.92% 36.09%
Plymouth Plymouth-Whitemarsh SHS 20.5125 90.5 53.92% 36.09%
Whitemarsh Plymouth-Whitemarsh SHS 20.5125 90.5 53.92% 36.09%
Pottstown Pottsgrove SHS 39.2522 90 11.82% 35.34%
Lower Pottsgrove Pottsgrove SHS 37.7158 90 15.28% 35.34%
Upper Pottsgrove Pottsgrove SHS 37.7158 90 15.28% 35.34%
West Pottsgrove Pottsgrove SHS 37.7158 90 15.28% 35.34%
Rockledge Abington SHS 29.89 89.6 32.85% 34.74%
Abington Abington SHS 29.89 89.6 32.85% 34.74%
East Greenville Upper Perkiomen HS 23.0622 85.7 48.19% 28.87%
Green Lane Upper Perkiomen HS 23.0622 85.7 48.19% 28.87%
Pennsburg Upper Perkiomen HS 23.0622 85.7 48.19% 28.87%
Red Hill Upper Perkiomen HS 23.0622 85.7 48.19% 28.87%
Marlborough Upper Perkiomen HS 23.0622 85.7 48.19% 28.87%
Upper Hanover Upper Perkiomen HS 23.0622 85.7 48.19% 28.87%
Upper Dublin Upper Dublin HS 31.4099 84.9 29.44% 27.67%
Horsham Hatboro-Horsham SHS 26.848 76.4 39.69% 14.89%
Norristown Norristown Area HS 33.179 71.5 25.47% 7.52%
East Norriton Norristown Area HS 33.179 71.5 25.47% 7.52%
West Norriton Norristown Area HS 33.179 71.5 25.47% 7.52%
Cheltenham Cheltenham HS 44.5156 66.5 0.00% 0.00%

2015-11-27Background Data

DateWeb Link
2015-11-272015-14 High School Value Index Spreadsheet
2015-11-272015-14 Percent Comparison Cheltenham HS vs Montgomery County High Schools

2015-11-10 School Performance Profile 2014-2015: Cheltenham High School Gets a "D"

Permalink2015-11-10Live Recording

 

The main news from this month's meeting concerned the recently released state test results for Cheltenham High School: a score of 66.5. This is the latest low point in a long term decline:

Cheltenham High: School Performance Profile 2015 to 2012

Given Cheltenham has the highest Montgomery County school tax rate, One resident summarized the present situation as "paying for good performance and not getting it."

During the public comments period,"Citizen"Art Haywood stated the following: "I am here because of the scores that were put on display-- the school profile report. The profile is abysmal and unacceptable…"

"The high school has been in a downward trajectory for a number of years. This is not the first year, although this is the lowest…"

"We need new leadership at the high school. The leadership at the high school has not been successful…. That's my request: that you look closely at immediate and fundamental change at the high school. Because we are losing kids and we are losing value in Cheltenham Township."

DateTrackWeb Link
2015-11-101Regular Legislative Meeting Part 1 of 2
2015-11-102Regular Legislative Meeting Part 2 of 2

2015-11-10Regular Legislative Meeting Selected Documents

DateWeb Link
2015-11-10Oct 2015 Revenue
2015-11-10Oct 2015 Expense Summary
2015-11-10Superintendent Goals 2015-2016 11-10-15
2015-11-10P103 EQUAL OPPORTUNITY PROGRAMS 11 6 15 First Read
2015-11-10P357 457 557 Complaints 10 5 15 First Read
2015-11-10November 2015 Volunteers Sheet1
2015-11-10Agenda 11 10 15 EDEP Final
2015-11-10November 2015 Volunteers Sheet1
2015-11-10Budget Transfer 20151110

2015-10-13 Regular Legislative Meeting in 3 Separate Recordings

Permalink2015-10-13Live Recording

 

The podmaster's pick for this meeting concerns question/comments by two attendees regarding whether the district is adequately verifying that students who enroll in the district are legal residents. It is illegal for non-residents to use Cheltenham Schools. This is a sensitive topic since the Township shares a border with Philadelphia.

Some in the township are skeptical that the district takes policing the residency requirement seriously because of the inherent conflict of interest that more students can lead to a bigger budget. It should be noted that from 1999 to 2009 Cheltenham School District enrollment declined by nearly 17% while the tax millage rate increased by nearly 46%. One shudders to think of the present tax rate if enrollment actually increased !

The first question at the meeting was a simple request for a report describing district efforts to verify student residency. The second question was from a former member of the Enrollment Registration Residency Task Force (which appears to have last convened on December 16, 2014).

The main points of the second question were:

  • The questioner identified two jobs in the district that concern residency verification: the Residency Inspector and the Residency Coordinator.
  • We currently do not have a Residency Inspector and no one new was hired for this position.
  • Last month, the Residency Coordinator retired. As of last week the Residency Coordinator job has not been posted.
  • The questioner stated that she lives on a street with 25 homes. One of her neighbors is a former board member. There were two instances of children attending Cheltenham schools illegally.
  • Nothing happened regarding this situation for several months until she contacted the former school board member.
  • If the board does not take residency seriously, it sends a direct message to teachers, residents and to those students here illegally that the school board is allowing this to happen.

The superintendent responded to these two questions. Your podmaster would like to provide you with a detailed summary of the superintendent's response; however, it is difficult to parse. It is hard to tell whether the new super had a bad night, or is using long, tedious and rambling responses as a form of crowd control.

The bottom line is that I could not find an answer in his response to the question of when critical residency-related positions will be filled or when a residency report would be released. The superintendent's complete response is available at this link. You might hear something that I missed….

DateTrackWeb Link
2015-10-131Regular Legislative Meeting Part 1 of 3
2015-10-132Regular Legislative Meeting Part 2 of 3
2015-10-133Regular Legislative Meeting Part 3 of 3

2015-10-13Regular Legislative Meeting Selected Documents

DateWeb Link
2015-10-13Agenda
2015-10-13Sept 2015 Exp Summary
2015-10-13Sept 2015 Revenue
2015-10-13Volunteers Oct 2015 (1)
2015-10-13Budget Transfers

2015-10-06 Finance Committee Meeting: Cheltenham has the Highest Transportation Cost Per Student in Pennsylvania

Permalink2015-10-06Live Recording

 

At this meeting Finance Director Cara A. Michaels announced that Cheltenham Township School District has the highest transportation costs per student in the state of Pennsylvania

At the meeting, it was said that some of the factors contributing to this dubious honor were:

  • Hazardous areas in the district force the bussing of 1700 students.
  • Transporting Cedarbrook students to the distant locations.
  • Costs of transporting 500 students to 54 non-public schools.

The most egregious example of run-away cost was given as a group of 123 students whose transportation expense was $9500 per student. One wonders how much Uber $9500 would buy....

DateTrackWeb Link
2015-10-061Finance Committee Meeting Meeting Part 1 of 1

2015-10-06 Act 34 Hearing for Cedarbrook Project

Permalink2015-10-06Live Recording

The total millage impact of the Cedarbrook project was estimated at this meeting as follows:

Act 34 Est. Total Millage Impact of Cedarbrook Project
$12,850,000 G.O. Bonds on Table I 0.14 mills
$17,400,000 G.O. Bonds on Table II 0.34 mills
$21,250,000 G.O. Bonds on Table III 0.83 mills
Indirect Costs 0.07 mills
Total Millage Impact 1.38 mill

This will result in a 3.1% increase on the median home:

 
DateTrackWeb Link
2015-10-061Act 34 Hearing for Cedarbrook Project Meeting Part 1 of 1

2015-10-06Act 34 Hearing for Cedarbrook Project Meeting Selected Documents

DateWeb Link
2015-10-06Cedarbrook Rebuild Project Page
2015-10-0610.6.2015 CBK Rebuild-Act 34 Hearing - Final
2015-10-06Notice Of Public Hearing Act 34
2015-10-06Act 34 Project Description Booklet

Cheltenham School District Tax Liens for Sep/Oct 2015

Permalink2014-08-05Update

 

2015-10-11CSD Tax Liens for Sep/Oct 2015

The following are the tax liens filed for Cheltenham School District on the Montgomery County Court website from 9/1/15 to 10/11/15. (Click on the "Continue without logging in" link to view the case.)

Case #
Case# 2015-25066
Case# 2015-25075
Case# 2015-25077
Case# 2015-25078
Case# 2015-25545
Case# 2015-25575
Case# 2015-26082
Case# 2015-26699

2015-10-06 Facilities Committee Meeting: Cedarbrook Issues

Permalink2015-10-06Live Recording

 

When a person rents a car, the rental company checks the car for damage before the final bill is settled. In the case of Cedarbrook remote campuses at Ivy Hill and Saint Joseph, the Facilities Committee discussed damage to the parking lot of these facilities caused by heavy school bus traffic. The district will be responsible for these damages.

An estimated $35,000 temporary asphalt repair project will be carried out shortly to help carry the facilities through the winter. A preliminary cost estimate of $576,000 was discussed for full repairs to the leased facilities.

It was also mentioned that the Ivy Hill facility hired a project manager to track the damage caused by students.

The majority of the meeting was taken up an additional architect presentation (over and above the presentation at the Act 34 Hearing). The Architect presented 3 construction alternatives which totaled as follows:

Cedarbrook Construction Alternatives
OPTION A: Renovate Existing Auditorium $51,157,804
OPTION B: New Auditorium and Music Room $54,689,750
OPTION C: New Auditorium Addition WITHOUT Music Rooms $50,464,886
Note that these estimates do not include the costs to repair the athletic fields which will most certainly be impacted during the construction. The cost of renovating the fields is $996,540.

DateTrackWeb Link
2015-10-061Facilities Committee Meeting Meeting Part 1 of 1
2015-10-062Facilities Committee Meeting Meeting Part 2 of 1

2015-10-06Facilities Committee Meeting Meeting Selected Documents

DateWeb Link
2015-10-06Facilities Committee Oct_2015 Presentation
2015-10-0610.6.2015 CBK Rebuild-Facility Committee Meeting

2015-09-08 Regular Legislative Meeting Meeting in 2 Separate Recordings

Permalink2015-09-08Live Recording

 
DateTrackWeb Link
2015-09-081Regular Legislative Meeting Meeting Part 1 of 2
2015-09-082Regular Legislative Meeting Meeting Part 2 of 2

2015-09-08Regular Legislative Meeting Meeting Selected Documents

DateWeb Link
2015-09-08Agenda
2015-09-08Aug 2015 Exp Summary
2015-09-08Aug 2015 Rev
2015-09-08Cedarbrook MS Act 34 Booklet - FINAL DRAFT w Financial - Reduced file size (1)
2015-09-08Sept 2015 Horizontal Movement (1)
2015-09-08Agenda 9 8 15 EDEP Final (2)
2015-09-08September 2015 Clearances for Board
2015-09-08FINAL PHILA-1763544 - Parameters Resolution - Cheltenham SD - 1 (1)
 
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