Appo School Board Passes Tax Increase, Approves Preliminary Budget, And Swears In Wright For Another Term

by Super User

The Appoquinimink School Board met on Tuesday, July 10 and swore in incumbent school board member Kelly Wright. The Board also approved reorganization of the board, approved a modest tax increase, and passed their preliminary 2018-2019 budget.

The meeting opened about 45 minutes late due to a long executive session where the members were interviewing candidates for various positions including Appoquinimink High School assistant principal. The board opened the meeting with a special recognition for the Appoquinimink High School baseball team coached by Billy Cunningham. The team won the Rocky Salvatore Sportsmanship Award which is named by upstate Delaware umpires. The school board honored Dr. Stanley Spoor, who was named the Delaware Secondary School Principal of the Year from Howard High School of Technology in Wilmington. Spoor recently joined the Appoquinimink School District as Human Resources Director. Finally, the school system’s Finance Director Dr. Charles Longfellow was honored as he will be leaving the school system after 14 years to join the Delaware Department of Education as Associate Secretary for Operation Support. Dr. Longfellow starts his new job on August 1.

The board then swore in member Kelly Wright for her second term as she was the only candidate to file for the school board election. Wright took the oath administered by Board President Richard Forsten and she was joined by her husband and son. The board then elected new board officers with Forsten remaining President, Wright taking over as Vice President from Charlisa Edelin and Superintendent Dr. Matt Burrows remains Executive Secretary. The committee assignments remain the same as last year: Kelly Wright is the Delaware School Boards Association (DSBA) representative with Norm Abrams as alternate; Michelle Wall is the DSBA legislative committee member with Charlisa Edelin as alternate; Charlisa Edelin is on the Advisory Board to the State Board of Education with Kelly Wright as alternate; Richard Forsten is the member of the New Castle County Combined Boards of Education with Michelle Wall as alternate; and Norm Abrams is a member of the Appoqunimink School District Financial Advisory Committee with Richard Forsten as alternate.

The board unanimously approved a tax warrant which features a 7.78 cents per $100 or 3.7% increase. A large part of the tax increase is due to state matching funds that the school system must match in order to receive, and the funding has to be used for special purposes such as special education teachers. Board member Norm Abrams expressed concerns about raising taxes when the school system will be approaching the taxpayers to approve a spending referendum next year. He asked if there are other ways to fund the programs saying that the state had “put a gun to the heads of the board members” to raise taxes. Board President Richard Forsten said that he supported the increase as the extra funding goes directly to the kids, but that he doesn’t like the state funding process. Board member Kelly Wright said that it was good that they were talking on record and that the board needs to keep vigilant about putting pressure on the state to change their funding formulas.

The School Board also approved a preliminary budget of approximately $242 million and Finance Director said that the final budget will come in January or February when the school’s unit count is determined which drives state funding. The school system will also retain a $4.6 fund balance which is a worst case scenario. Board President Richard Forsten calculated the spending at about $11,000 per student and Finance Director Longfellow said that level of funding has held steady for the last few years.

The board voted to approve a change in the district’s change order policy that will allow the School Board President and Superintendent to sign off on change orders prior to approval by the School Board. The change is to require signatures from both the Board President and Superintendent. The policy was changed from the original meeting, at the suggestion of Operations Director Robert Hershey to change the wording from “per contract” to “per change order”. Hershey gave a construction update saying that the footprint of Lorewood Grove Elementary is complete and the footprint has started with Odessa High School as 95% of the timber piles have been installed.

Photo credit of Kelly Wright taking oath with her family…Keith Thompson

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