Today’s news – Thursday, June 8, 2017

Today’s news and information gleanings from here and there.

Quote for today … “I don’t believe Trump colluded with the Russians because I don’t think he colludes with his own staff.”  – A alleged Lindsay Graham comment.


fact-opinionReflections – some factual, some opinion – on last week’s School District Board of Directors’ meeting:

  • Budget consternation – Acting financial chief, Keith Ramsey, was hit by a barrage of sorts when a director questioned the budget he was going to submit to the State Department of Education. Curiously, the budget had been run up the flagpole several times before according to board minutes. The fuselage of questioning was most curious in light of previous board past budgeting practices which have led to a sizeable debt service.
  • “Legal speak” language was the language used when the issue of the departure of former business manager, Amy Light. The directors buttoned up when asked about the departure. Was it a resignation or a termination. Both terms were used over the past several months. Now it appears it was one of those “who knows” tight-lipped deals in which there was a severance payment but no real understanding of what transpired because it is a “personnel issue.”
  • Noticed that Cocalico’s 2017-2018 budget is open for inspection before being presented for adoption at the June School Board meeting.
  • From the Recent School Board meeting agenda: “The final budget includes a proposed tax increase in the total amount of .8508 mills or 2.90%, which is within Columbia Borough School District’s approved index of 3.7%, and use of $800,000 ($250,000 is in Budgetary Reserve) of Fund Balance. The real estate tax rate for 2017-18 will be 30.1908 mills.”
  • Also from that agenda: “Approval of the 3 Year Agreement with Substitute Teacher Service (STS) to provide Special Education Classroom Assistants -The markup is 29% and the starting rate for a Personal Care Assistant (PCA) is $13.50 per hour and for a Para Educator is $11.40 per hour. There is a 3% increase in pay each year over the term of the contract.”
  • Special education costs: The School District pays Intermediate Unit 13 a tidy sum for special education services. While many Lancaster County school districts use internal staffing and programs for special education students, Columbia doesn’t have the staffing for that. (NOTE: Among the benefits of the current consolidated services agreement with Eastern Lancaster County School District is the significantly enhanced and improved technology which includes a much improved Website which includes a tab for SPECIAL EDUCATION). See also the Pennsylvania Training and Technical Network Website.
  • Pennsylvania’s Department of Education also has a SPECIAL EDUCATION page. In the Governor’s 2017-2018 budget, Columbia Borough School District is on target to receive $1,363,497 for Special Education Funding representing an increase of more than $49,000. (Eastern Lancaster County which has more students has been promised $1,663,547.) – Pennsylvania Department of Education Website.
  • Will the “shared services” agreement continue? Under the agreement, assuredly, the key leadership positions of superintendent and financial chief have been significantly upgraded. So, too, is the aforementioned technology. Still, citizens are left wondering whether the obdurate (“We’ve always done it this way before!”) positioning of some will sour the relationship.


  1. I think the funding for special education is only one third of what Columbia will be paying. Is that money gaurenteed or is it like the shared services grant money that never showed up?

  2. The money is in the Department of Education’s budget which is in the Commonwealth’s budget. But, what’s that you say? The Commonwealth does not yet have a budget. You’re right,

    Here’s a quote from a article: “Expect public grandstanding and backroom deal-making until June 30, the end of the fiscal year.”

    Here’s the article:

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