The January 15th Methacton School Board Meeting was held in the Skyview School Library where there seemed to be more empty shelves than ones with books. The board talked at length about getting a solicitor, more security procedures, adding police officers, expelling voting places and cutting a Math class. Here is a link to the agenda.
Taxpayers also challenged the board to reveal how much money was being used to fund an investigation of sexual misconduct on the part of the school superintendent, Tim Quinn. The board refused to say how much the investigation was costing claiming Sunshine Law Protections.
The irony of the meeting was brought out by Board Member Jim Phillips who was attempting to make a case to bring in a solicitor. Without making a motion on the floor, he attempted to argue that having a lawyer in the room would save the taxpayers’ dollars in the long run. He cited a lawsuit the School District lost when they refused to act in accordance with Sunshine Laws. Phillips claimed a $60,000 judgment caused by making mistakes that may have been corrected if the board spent $10,000 to get decent legal advice as part of the “cost of doing business”.
Part of the “cost of doing business” these days is security. The board was given a 10 minute video presentation on school security that was prepared by the staff. The district administration feels confident that it would be well prepared if a situation like Sandy Hook was to happen here. There was a follow-up discussion on adding more SRO or Student Resource Officers (armed cops) to all the schools.
Some board members contemplated increasing the number of officers from the Lower Providence Police Department.
Methacton consists of Lower Providence and Worcester Townships. Lower Providence has a Police Department. Worcester saves money by using the State Police. In other words, Lower Providence residents are subsidizing police protection for Methacton High School and Worcester Elementary School when Lower Providence Police are used by the School District in those Worcester locations. Because of restrictions on how a school district can tax, it is not possible for the school board to levy an additional tax on Worcester residents for these services.
While discussion of the school calendars for 2013-2014 and 2014-2015 academic years, School Board President Joyce Petrauskas led a discussion on how to remove the voters from the Methacton elementary schools. Twice a year Arrowhead, Audubon, Eagleville, and Woodland schools open the doors to the public for the purpose of voting. She related with pride that voters no longer use Arcola as a voting location and how much happier she is that voting takes place off-campus. While schools are part of the community, she feels the electoral process should be removed from schools because closing the schools on election days is too disruptive to the school district.
After the discussions about lawyers, guns, and money was a presentation about cutting a high school math class. Dr. Barrie, head of curriculum, stated that one of the Math Classes that was offered at the high school for transitioning students into a more rigorous Algebra was no longer needed. While the School Board was presented with printed material about what was to happen to the Math Program, no one in the audience could follow along because neither printed material was provided nor was there any images presented on the overhead projector that remained on while the issue was being discussed.
Also mentioned in the meeting was the fact Worcester will take up the issue of allowing Methacton to install lights at the athletic fields at its meeting on January 16th.
The bottom line from the meeting was the school district seems more than willing to discuss spending money it doesn’t have on extra security and lights, but not so much on solicitors to do the job right or how much it is spending to investigate administration misconduct. Unfortunately, the only cost cutting measures discussed revolved around shrinking math offerings to the students.
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