By DIANE M. BITTING
Special to the Advocate
The current acting principals at East High and Mill Road elementary schools have been named to those positions permanently, while Bear Creek School’s principal is resigning to take a leadership position with the Palmyra Area School District.
Kari Druckenmiller, at East High, and Michael Pericci, at Mill Road, will assume those positions permanently, effective May 1. The Elizabethtown school board approved those appointments at its meeting on Tuesday, April 23, while also approving the resignation of Annette Spagnolo, Bear Creek’s principal, effective July 7.
After the meeting, district spokesman Troy Portser said that Spagnolo has accepted the position of assistant superintendent at Palmyra. He described it as “a terrific opportunity for Dr. Spagnolo. And we will miss her. … She’s going to be a tremendous asset to Palmyra.”
The district will seek a replacement, he added.
Druckenmiller and Pericci were named to the acting positions last fall when East High’s principal, Amy Balsbaugh, resigned to take a position with the Warwick School District.
The board also heard an update on the proposed 201920 budget from business manager Jeffrey Ammerman, including a comparison with this year’s budget figures.
With the latest revisions, projected revenues for 2019-20 are now listed as $65.69 million, with a proposed 2.9% tax increase. That’s more than $100,000 more than the budget presentation two weeks ago. Meanwhile, expenses, including $350,000 for capital projects and $545,000 in debt service for recently approved projects at the middle school and Rheems Elementary, stand at $65.67 million (about $95,000 more than before), now leaving a surplus of more than $15,000. The board is scheduled to vote on the proposed final budget at the May 14 meeting, with the final budget to be approved at the June 25 meeting.
In looking at the 2018-19 year, Ammerman said there were more than $600,000 in attritional savings, including not filling three positions, along reduced health insurance costs. Also, revenues were higher than budgeted due to increased interest earnings and higher real estate tax collection rate.
The board also heard about savings gained from the district’s participation in the Lancaster-Lebanon Virtual Solutions, run by the IU-13, to provide online learning for students who could otherwise choose outside cyber schools. Making the presentation were assistant superintendent Richard Schwarzman and Kathleen Griffith, administrator for educational alternatives.
Elizabethtown has the third largest program within the LLVS, Griffith said. The data listed 97 students enrolled, including 70 full time, as of this April. Of those, 14 returned from outside cyber charters and 54 had planned to leave but didn’t when made aware of the LLVS offerings. Griffith noted that 95 percent of the LLVS students completed coursework, while the rate wasn’t that high for outside cyber charters.
For the 2017-18 school year, it’s projected that the district avoided more than $817,000 in costs it would have had to pay to outside cyber schools, with the district’s costs for that year just over $257,000.
The board also heard about Elizabethtown Area High School’s extensive agriculture education program from teachers Mark Anderson and Stephen Geib, who also advise the FFA club.
Course offerings include such classes as agricultural mechanics and engineering, wildlife management, aquatic resources and veterinary science. Students have done such projects as raising fish and rabbits, growing geraniums and lettuce, servicing lawn mowers, driving a tractor and building a bear trap that is used by the Pennsylvania Game Commission. About 200 students take courses in the ag program.
Anderson said plans are in the works to offer dual college credit for three of Elizabethtown’s agricultural courses through Murray State University in Kentucky, starting next spring with greenhouse management and adding agricultural business and animal science.
Also, about 60 students are involved with FFA, with several taking part in state and national events. Two students who competed in public speaking, Emma Musser and Julia Neideigh, gave brief speeches to the board, on the use of drones in farming and comparing real milk with plan0-tbased products.
The board also gave approval to several items presented at the April 9 workshop meeting, including a revised calendar making this year’s last day of school May 31 instead of June 3.