Debbie Bookstaber: May and June 2008 School Board Update

May and June were big months for the school board which announced a tentative agreement with TEEA, worked to finalize the budget and attended Conestoga's graduation ceremony.

You can read the May and June meeting minutes at,, and, but here the biggest highlights from my own perspective.

The Public Comment period for the GCAs ends on Monday June 16th. You still have time to voice your opinion on this proposal. Visit to find a sample email and the addresses of the appropriate contacts in our state government.

Finance Committee:
  • The finance committee finalized the plan to provide after-school activity coverage for the middle schools. This plan will give parents options and enable all students to participate in after-school activities. Additionally, it will not cost the taxpayers any money. I want to thank the many community members who came to board meetings to express the needs of working parents and provide feedback as well as the administrators who worked with the board to evaluate the options.
  • The finance committee voted to accept gaming revenue from the state. The gaming revenue will provide a tax rebate to people who have a homestead exemption. The average rebate will be $181. If you have not applied for your homestead exemption, please contact the county for an application.
  • The finance committee worked on a fund balance policy to outline how any future surplus (revenue - expenditures = surplus) would be handled. This policy is still under review and will move to the policy committee next.
  • The finance committee also discussed T/E's grant application regarding bio-diesel fuel for school buses. If our grant application is accepted, we'll be able to switch to a more environmentally-friendly fuel at no additional cost to the taxpayers.


  • You can find documents relating to the budget at The board will adopt a final budget on June 16, 2008. The proposed final budget is available for public inspection.
  • The budget was approved in the amount of $98,406,374 revenue, $4,052,244 fund balance transfers, of which $1,430,000 is the contingency, and $102,458618 is for appropriations on a tentative basis.
  • This will result in a tax increase of approximately 4.37% (which is an average cost of $178 to a T/E homeowner. Thankfully, the gaming revenue will provide an average of $181 in tax relief for a T/E homeowner.)
  • The Act 1 index was 4.4%, and the Board stayed under that index. Many neighboring school districts were not able to stay under the Act 1 index.
  • The Board worked hard to cut unnecessary expenses in the budget while preserving the quality of the educational program. Due to rising fuel costs, the decline in investment income, rising costs of benefits & salaries, the increase in prescription medicine rates, new state mandates, rising costs of special education, and reduced real estate sales, revenue has declined and expenses have increased. Due to these factors, nearby school districts like Radnor and Lower Merion had even larger tax increases than T/E.
  • Other districts throughout the state have had to cut educational programs such as FLES or increase class sizes in order to stay within the Act 1 cap. T/E was able to stay under the cap without cutting FLES or increasing class sizes, so the education of our students will not be impacted negatively.


  • The Diversity Committee met to review the socio-economic makeup of our district and to discuss reading and math scores as well as extra support offering to students performing below grade level.
  • We also met to celebrate the retirement of Nancy Letts, who will be greatly missed. Nancy has been a tremendous advocate for children in our community and has contributed a great deal to the diversity committee.

Public Information Committee:

  • We met to discuss changes to the tax bill, topics for Board Talk and to evaluate the district policy on fliers/newsletters. Our goal is to reduce the number of unnecessary fliers sent home by making them available online. This is both environmentally friendly and a cost-cutting measure. We are still evaluating the plan and will be meeting with PTO newsletter representatives in the fall to get their feedback before we implement it.

Education Committee:

  • We met in May to review the District Strategic Plan, Literacy Intervention, the Classrooms for the Future Grant Application and much more. The Strategic Plan is available for public inspection, and I encourage you to read it. has summary information.
  • The Plan is the result of many hours of work by teachers, administrators, students, parents, board members, and community volunteers.

Fun Events:

  • In June, we got to attend Conestoga's Graduation. I'm consistently impressed by how accomplished the students in this district are. I saw a copy of the Spoke, which listed the colleges students will be attending next year. Wow!
  • In June, we also attended a ceremony honoring the district retirees. It was so nice to meet them and to hear about their impressive dedication to students in this district.

Since so many of you have asked for photo updates, here are some pictures of my baby from May and June. Enjoy!