New members take office, Leiser elected Vice President
By Mike McGann, Editor, UnionvilleTimes.com
EAST MARLBOROUGH — As expected, Eileen Bushelow was elected as the new president of the Unionville-Chadds Ford Board of Education, Thursday night.
Bushelow, of Pocopson, recently won reelection — after running unopposed — to the board after being appointed to the board in March of 2010. Jeff Leiser was elected as the board’s Vice President. Both were elected by identical 8-0 votes.
Bushelow, Kathleen Do, Victor DuPuis and Gregg Lindner all took their oath of office Thursday night, formally joining the board after winning election last month. Frank Murphy, reelected to the board last month, missed the meeting due to illness and will be formally sworn in during the board’s Dec. 12 meeting.
While much work lies ahead of this board, starting with a proposed preliminary budget on Dec. 12, Thursday night’s brief meeting was more about celebrating and speaking about new starts, with board members, their families and friends enjoying punch and other light snacks following the meeting.
Although Thursday night was fairly free, easy and congenial, the coming weeks will be a challenge for the board, in part because of having new members with different philosophies, a very compressed calendar thanks to the presidential primary and continued worries over drops in tax and state funding.
The new board will get down to work in earnest at the Dec. 12 work/formal session — a meeting expected to be primarily dedicated to budget matters. As the board must adopt a proposed preliminary budget by Dec. 26 under state law, it is likely to discuss the initial framework of the 2012-13 budget in some detail. In order to avoid meeting again before Christmas, the board will have to adopt the proposed preliminary budget at that meeting — a challenging task due to the lack of hard data on state funding, among other numbers.
But the budget work just starts there. In the first weeks of 2012, the board will have to adopt a preliminary budget and decide by Feb. 2 whether to apply for exceptions to Act 1 index — whether to cite pension and special education costs in order to increase taxes beyond 1.7%. While the board chose not to seek those exemptions in 2011, it is much more likely to at least apply for them, at minimum to keep options open. Should the board decide it needs to go beyond those limits, or if the state Department of Education rejects the exemptions, the option exists for the board to seek voter approval at April primary election for a higher tax increase.
Budget hearings are expected to happen in March, with a proposed final budget in May, followed by final budget approval in June.