The Parkland School Board exercised the audacity of “nope” and rejected Lehigh Carbon Community College’s 2013-2014 "atrocious" “offensive” and “disgraceful” budget while serving up a blistering cavalcade of glowing hot rhetoric during Tuesday night’s meeting.
Utilizing space at the Lehigh Career Technical Institute in Schnecksville instead of their normal board room at their administration building, board members took turns on who could find the most creative adjective to unload on LCCC for raising Parkland’s share of contribution by more than $1.2 million, a $25,751 increase over the previous year’s budget. The modest increase from last year isn’t what set off some school board members so much as the fact that the school is hoarding a $17 million surplus in their $41.8 million budget.
“I find that personally offensive to the sending districts that make up LCCC and the taxpayers,” said Board Member David Kennedy. “Each of the sending districts is struggling to cut programs, cut teachers, whatever. This increase is $439,000 year-over –year….The money is in the surplus. And they come back to the districts.”
Growing increasingly irate at the specter of the increase, he then suggested some districts need psychological assistance.
“I cannot see how any district in their right mind would support this budget,” he said. “This is a slap in the face to every taxpayer who funds LCCC.”
But the biscuits were still in the oven.
“If we’re doing these kinds of cuts, counting pennies and nickels I think it is disrespectful to ask us for any kind of increase this year,” said Board Member Roberta Marcus. “I don’t know why they couldn’t mitigate that increase by going into their Fund Balance which is somewhere between $17 and $20 million.”
“This is offensive,” said Board Member Lisa Adams.
“For me this is probably one of the hardest decisions I’ve had in a long time on the board,” said President Jayne Bartlett. “I think this is disgraceful and am very upset that they would do this, but I have to tell you that I will end up voting “yes” but with the strong conviction that next year things had better be different.”
She added that the $17 million Fund Balance the school is sitting on is “atrocious.”
The reasons she voted for it Tuesday night was, in part, to support the students who are enrolled in the school.
“I’m telling you I struggled with this because I understand what my fellow board members have said,” Bartlett added.
Voting in favor of the budget were Board Members Robert Bold, Robert Cohen and Bartlett
Dissenting were Board Members Mark Hanichak, Jef Reyburn, Kennedy, Marcus and Adams.
In other business, the board approved the hiring of Kelly Rosario as director of curriculum, instruction and professional development, effective at a date to be determined. She will replace L. Randy Claroni, who is retiring. Rosario will pocket $112,000 a year in her new job.