Parkland School District

SOUTH WHITEHALL TWP., Pa. - The Parkland School District Board of Directors adopted the 2020-21 budget Tuesday night. It contains no tax increase. The vote was unanimous.

The $192 million spending plan was a work in progress for months, according to John Vignone, director of business administration.

That work included cutting about $2.5 million from an initially planned $11.2 million draw from the district's fund balance. Thanks to the belt-tightening, the district lowered the amount needed to $8.7 million.

That process was complex, Vignone said. PSD postponed nearly $917,000 in personnel and various service costs and received more than $689,000 - most of it from the pandemic-related federal CARES Act.

In addition, a reduction in Social Security and state pension subsidies helped to mitigate the amount of fund balance needed for the budget.

"Even though there is uncertainty, it's what we try to limit in the budget," Vignone said.

With no tax increase, the millage rate remains the same at 15.71 mills.

In other business at the meeting, the directors approved the district's "Return to Play Health and Safety Plan" by unanimous vote.

The plan is "a phased approach to reintroduce (sporting) activity in the school district," said Superintendent Richard Sniscak. It is scheduled to begin July 1 for high school athletic teams.

Since formal practices have been halted for months, some if not most athletes are not in playing shape, according to William Dreisbach, athletic director. The lack of conditioning makes the athletes more likely to become injured. Thus, the return is a gradual process.

That return will be done in three phases, according to presentation made by Dreisbach and Sheri Fredrick-Deeb, supervisor of health services and wellness.

In the first phase, no sharing of athletic equipment will be allowed; social distancing guidelines will be required; athletes will have their own water bottles; no locker rooms will be available; and athletes will have access to hand sanitizer.

The first phase will be restricted to gatherings of 25 or fewer. The sessions will primarily focus on getting athletes back in shape.

Phase two will explore strength and conditioning and developing potential dormant skills. Phase three will feature full workouts and competition.

Each athlete and coach will be asked detailed questions about their potential exposure to COVID-19 before being allowed to participate.

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