Exeter School Board adopts budget with tax hike | Berks Regional News

EXETER TWP., Pa. – For many school boards, the most important votes happen when school isn’t in session. That’s doubly true in this year of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Exeter Township School Board on Tuesday adopted the final budget of $79.38 million for fiscal year 2020-21 by a 6-3 vote.

The real estate millage will be at a rate of 33.6073 mills, or a 1.5% increase over the previous fiscal year.

To bring the budget in balance, the board eliminated three elementary library positions and the guidance counselor secretary position at the Reiffton School, an elementary building.

Also, the board reduced the workday by one hour for 29 district aides.

In other business, the board accepted the resignation of Anne Guydish, director of finance and support services, effective Oct. 6. She has been with the district for 21 years.

A revised job description was adopted by the board to be used in the search for her replacement.

Athletic plan approved

The board adopted a comprehensive re-entry plan for interscholastic athletics for the 2020-21 school year.

The plan follows guidelines based on recommendations from the Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association (PIAA); the state Health and Education departments; the state government; and the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The plan calls for any sports-related activities in yellow or green phased counties to adhere to the gathering limits set by the state for phased reopening (25 in yellow, 250 in green) and a facility as a whole may not exceed 50% of total occupancy.

Because Berks is now in the green phase, sports-related activities at the pre-K to 12th grade level are limited to student athletes, coaches, officials and staff only.

The plan classifies sports into three risk levels.

High-risk sports – like football, wrestling, cheerleading (stunts) and dance – involve close sustained contact between participants, lack of significant protective barriers and high probability that respiratory particles will be transmitted between participants.

Moderate-risk sports – like basketball, volleyball, baseball, softball, soccer, ice hockey, tennis, pole vault, high jump, long jump, and 7-on-7 football – involve close sustained contact but with protective equipment, or intermittent close contact or group sports that use equipment that can’t be cleaned between participants.

Low-risk sports – like running events, cross country, throwing events, swimming, golf, weightlifting and sideline cheer – can be done with social distancing or individually with no sharing of equipment or the ability to clean the equipment between uses by competitors.

When the entire state is in the green phase, low and moderate sports may resume. Also, high risk sports may begin full person-to-person contact.

Among many safety measures called for in the plan, coaches, student-athletes and athletic staff must screen and monitor athletes for symptoms prior to and during games and practices.

Coaching staff and other adults should wear face coverings at all times. Students actively participating in practices and contests are not required to wear masks. If not actively involved, students should wear masks.

Currently, summer activities may begin July 1 or possibly sooner, and students, coaches and staff may engage in 100% voluntary out-of-season activities.

In other athletic business, the board approved a PIAA cooperative sponsorship with the Wyomissing Area School District and the district in boys and girls water polo for the 2020-21 school year.

And the board directed the administration to execute a sports medicine services agreement with Commonwealth Orthopedic Associates for the 2020-21 school year at a cost of $17,800.

Behavioral services

The board also approved agreements related to behavioral services for the 2020-21 school year, including:

  • Progressions Behavioral Health Services Inc. will provide mental health services to students during the school day. The district will provide the location.
  • Chancelight of Pennsylvania (formerly Education Alternative for ABA LLC) will provide behavior analyst consultation services for $100 per hour, and registered behavior technician services for $45 per hour.
  • Keepley Behavioral Consulting Inc. will provide additional support to a student for up to four hours per month at a rate of $90 per hour.
  • The Richard J. Caron Foundation will provide student assistance program services at the cost of $86,130.
  • River Rock Academy Inc. will provide alternative education for disruptive youths at a cost of $214.29 per day for secondary students and $229.49 per day for elementary students.

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