The Elizabethtown Area School District has approved a request by the Lancaster County Academy to commit for an additional three years starting July 1. The district will continue to purchase 10 seats per school year to the alternative school for students who struggle in a traditional school or who have dropped out. There will be a possible increase of $2,000 ($200 per seat) in addition to the $44,000 budgeted for the 2018-19 school year.
At its meeting on Tuesday, Dec. 4, the school board heard an update from technology director Brian Lownsbery on purchasing Chromebooks for the district’s 1:1 personalized learning initiative in which students are issued
their own laptops. Phase two of the program will provide 1,400 laptops for high school students next school year. Phase one is now ongoing at the middle school.
Lownsbery said that if the devices are ordered now at the current locked-in pricing, which he recommends, the cost would be $221.13 per device, or $309,582 in total. If the order is done after that price expires on Feb. 14, the cost would be $244 per device, or $341,600. If the laptops are ordered when originally planned in May or June, the estimated price, with possible tariff increases, would be $270 per device, or $378,000, which is a $68,000 increase over the current price.
Because this was budgeted for next year, Business Manager George Longridge said that money allocated for the
capital reserve transfer could be used to make the purchase now and that it would be a good return on investment. “That $68,000 is almost the cost of a teacher,” he said.
The board indicated its agreement, with member Craig Hummer saying it makes a lot of sense.
Longridge also gave an update on capital projects, including the refreshing of the high school/middle school library with painting, new carpeting and furniture at a cost of $124,659. Old library furniture has been placed in the high school lobby.
He also discussed mold remediation, which affected all the school buildings at the start of this school year. The total cost of cleanup was $243,492; however, because the district has insurance, the total payout is the $25,000 deductible.
Another proposed capital project is replacing the heating/ air conditioning unit located on the middle school roof. There have been ongoing issues with that unit and concern that the mold could reoccur without replacement. The $143,000 cost would include dehumidifying.
There are also plans to install a new district sign, with $35,000 already budgeted.
Longridge also gave an overview for the 2019-20 budget. The Act 1 tax increase limit will be 2.9 percent. With reassessment yielding an incremental growth of the tax base, there would be a $200,000 increase in revenue with no tax increase. Raising taxes by 2.9 percent would bring in about $1.2 million.
Increases are anticipated in such areas as salaries, retirement funding and transportation. More budget projections and updates will be presented at the Dec. 18 board meeting.
At this meeting, the board also continued its discussion on the book “What School Could Be” by Ted Dintersmith. It was mentioned that the Leader in Me program now at the elementary level will be expanded to the middle school next year and to the high school the following year.