Ed Powers was elected to the Levittown Board of Education three years ago with hopes of guiding a rapidly growing district to better financial control.
With a 2 percent tax cap looming state-wide, Powers feels it is still important to focus on his initial goal as he prepares to enter his second three-year term. The district made major cuts within the instructional staff at the end of the 2010-11 school year that made this year's budget planning process a bit easier.
"This year's budget was more about looking forward and measuring the on-going impact of changes made last year," said Powers, who is running unopposed in the 2012-13 election. "All districts are in survival mode because of the tax cap. Levittown got ahead of it last year and was able to reap the continued benefit of those changes for this budget."
Though the layoffs made last year certainly helped, Powers said there was certainly a negative impact on the district as well, some that effected the entire community.
"The teacher and student both lose any bond that was previously formed," Powers explained. "You do not want to lay people off, but we had to economize. Overall, I don't think the children lost out. Library was eliminated, but the literacy center was started. Class sections were combined, but the average class size dropped."
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As most schools are struggling to maintain programs with the limiting tax cap, the Levittown district is in the process of implementing several new ones. Powers feels the new programs are very encouraging as the board wrestles with the 2 percent levy.
"By the start of next school year, every core instructional class will be outfitted with a smartboard for incorporation into the instruction," Powers said. "I have heard from teachers all across the district that the smartboards will be very beneficial for the students. In addition, the district's bus fleet is having cameras and GPS devices installed for better safety conditions and routing efficiency."
As the new year approaches, Powers hopes the board is able to assist the district in keeping up with the many changes ahead.
"This is really a busy year," he said. "In addition to getting the staff trained on the smartboards, the new common core curriculum continues to be rolled out. The teachers will be under the new APPR review methodology and two of three contracts are up for renegotiation and need to be settled."
"In any year one of those items would be a large achievement but putting them all together really makes this a very important year," Powers added. "I hope to contribute mostly to the smartboard deployment and the re-negotiations."
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