When: Warwick School Board Committee Plenary Meeting, May 3.
What happened: The school board took the first step by filling a vacancy on the board left by Millard Eppig Jr., who officially resigned in April. After receiving applications from interested individuals, three final candidates for the Board position were publicly interviewed at the meeting. The final selection will be made by the board members and announced at the May 17 meeting.
Candidates: The three candidates being considered by the board include local attorney Scott Landis, mental health professional Kimberly Regennas and former military and police officer Bill Breault. Landis is a partner of Barley Snyder. He serves the children as a Lancaster County Court Appointed Special Advocate and former Chairman of the Board of Trustees. He is a member of the Lancaster County Agency for Children and Youth and volunteers with the Pennsylvania Dutch Boy Scouts. He has a daughter who graduated from Warwick and another still in high school. Regennas is a clinical auditor and training coordinator. A longtime resident of Lititz and a member of the Regennas family known for their holiday candy business, she graduated from Warwick. A mother of three children, she is involved in the John R. Bonfield PTO. Breault has 35 years of experience in the military and with the Lancaster City Police. He has lived in the district for 20 years and has two children in the school district.
Board questions: When asked what they would focus on as board members, Landis noted that building trust within the school board and district was a top priority. Regennas stressed that she would bring her mental health experience to the school board, with a commitment to helping families deal with mental health issues that have come to light with the pandemic. Breault said he views the school board as a team that operates like a machine — even when the machine breaks down, it’s okay to agree to disagree. He also stressed that the school district must recognize that the children in the district belong to their parents, who should have a say in their education.
Budget: Warwick’s chief financial officer, Nathan Wertsch, provided an update on the 2022-23 budget, saying the budget was still on target for a zero tax increase, remaining at a mileage rate of 16.3711. The 2022-2023 budget is projected at $79,885,231. The two main spending variables are charter schools and health insurance for employees. It is unclear at this stage how state funding will affect the budget.
Quoteable: “We are in a good position from where we left off in March,” Wertsch said, noting that there has been no tax increase for three years, with only one increase 0.50% the previous year. “We’ve been the lowest in the county for four straight years.”
By the numbers: The 2022-23 budget includes $40,000 in salary and benefits savings, a planned $200,000 increase in income tax revenue, a budgeted increase of $125,000 in the subsidy for the basic education and $304,000 in emergency relief funds available for elementary and secondary schools.
And after: The budget calendar will contain a recommendation to approve the proposed final budget with no tax increase at the next meeting on May 17, with a continued budget trend and adjustment at the June 7 Committee of the Whole and final adoption at June 21 meeting.
Updated Terms: The board reviewed and discussed six school policy updates, including student discipline, student expression/dissemination of material, controlled substances/apparel, electronic devices, bullying/cyberbullying, and food services. These policies will be submitted for first reading approval at the May 17 meeting.
Public comments: A number of people in the audience spoke on issues ranging from book bans to Title IX guidelines. Several books were mentioned that had been officially revised and restored to the shelves of the school library or, in some cases, to advanced classrooms with parental approval. After several parents called on the district to establish a decency standard, council member Jim Koelsch suggested that the council could consider developing policies related to a decency standard, age-appropriate materials, and clarify the opt-out policy in which parents can request that their own children not read certain books that they find objectionable.