U-CF board votes on stormwater, summer hours, prelim budget

As anticipated, members of the Unionville-Chadds Ford School Board voted to put out for bid a plan that would correct a stormwater runoff problem involving Hillendale Elementary School and to change summer operating hours.

While both votes were unanimous, some reservations were expressed during the Feb. 19 board meeting held at Unionville High School.

Director Jeff Leiser said he hoped there would be exceptions to closing school district buildings at 6 p.m. on Thursdays until 8a.m. Monday if there were community events that would be served by having those buildings open. He asked for and received a “head nod” for those exceptions.

Superintendent John Sanville said there had already been discussions on the matter.

The change in hours would be for a six-week period from June 24 to Aug. 2. The idea is seen as a way to save money and is part of the district’s green energy initiative. Fulltime employees would work four 10-hour days during that period.

The board also wants to address a stormwater runoff problem at Hillendale that is damaging some private properties and causing silt to build up in Craigs Mill Run. At issue is the stormwater management system at the school, a system that was approved by Pennsbury Township officials when the current school property was a museum. That approval came before more modern stormwater management requirements.

Pocopson Township resident Bruce Yelton told the board that district taxpayers should not be paying for something that is Pennsbury Township’s responsibility.

Reading from a prepared statement Yelton said, “Our tax dollars are for the education of our students. It is not appropriate to provide funds to correct mistakes made by Pennsbury Township.”

He did, however, say that it would be appropriate for the district to provide volunteer labor and site access to correct the problem.

Director Holly Manzone said the vote was not a commitment to fund the project. It was simply to put the project out to bid to see what it would cost. She said the district needed to know that before it could apply for grants.

Fellow Director Vic Dupuis said the money would be spent on school grounds only and that funding the project was a matter of being a good neighbor.

Other business

• The board approved a preliminary budget for the next academic year. The spending plan, as it reads now, calls for $72.7 million in spending and revenue. The board also voted to apply for an additional $806,209 in exceptions to the Act 1 limits.

District Business Manager Bob Cochran said the application for the exceptions gives the board leeway, but does not mean it will vote to increase revenue by that amount. School districts don’t yet know how much money they’ll be getting from the state since the state budget is usually finalized after school budgets.

The preliminary budget will be discussed during the next few months before the board comes up with the final budget that will be voted on in June.

• There will be a Community Conversation concerning school safety on Monday, March 4, 7-9 p.m., in the high school cafeteria. Those planning to take part are asked to RSVP at https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/SYDMRYR

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About Rich Schwartzman

Rich Schwartzman has been reporting on events in the greater Chadds Ford area since September 2001 when he became the founding editor of The Chadds Ford Post. In April 2009 he became managing editor of ChaddsFordLive. He is also an award-winning photographer.

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