Threatening graffiti found at Unionville High School has led to a review of current security measures throughout the district.
At Monday night's regular business meeting, district Superintendent Sharon Parker read a statement regarding the offensive graffiti and the state of district security.
Although Parker's statement was vague on Monday evening as to the nature of the threat, one parent concerned about safety specifically referred to "the bomb threat."
In an interview Tuesday morning, Parker confirmed the validity of that comment.
"In accordance with district practice, the incident was reported to the
East Marlborough Police, as well as the Pennsylvania State Police," Parker said on Monday night, mirroring a statement posted on the district Web site from high school principal Jim Fulginiti. "Both departments have provided ongoing investigative and support services."
Parker also said that the state police are leading the investigation.
As of Tuesday morning, Trooper Corey Monte of the Pennsylvania State Police Avondale barracks could not confirm the nature of the incident and would not comment on the current state of the investigation.
"At this time, I cannot give you many details," Parker said on Monday night. "I will say that, at this time, the school is safe and secure and it will only get better. If I had any concern that our schools were unsafe, school would be cancelled."
In response to a parent's inquiry regarding unlocked doors and other safety concerns, Parker said that she has worked with the state police to make sure the school is safe.
Parker also referred to a planned safety drill that was to have been held at the high school for Wednesday afternoon as a "strengthening drill" for current district safety protocols.
Parker said Tuesday morning that the drill was intended to include relocating students to their secondary location, in this case Charles F. Patton Middle School.
"In the case of an emergency, the middle school would come to the high school, the middle school would come to the high school," Parker said. "We all go though these exercises throughout the year, but this tomorrow at the high school has the additional level not just of practice, but we're also going to do it noting the graffiti."
When asked if responding directly to the threat in this manner gave validity to the offender, Parker that this is the fine line that must be walked.
"We don't want to give respect to those who threaten, but we must look toward the greater good," Parker said. "We're using it as opportunity to practice our drills and procedures, and we're going on business as usual."
@bod:The Unionville Chadds Ford special tax study commission made its recommendation to the school board on Monday evening.
The nine-member commission has been working since mid-September to determine if the district should place either an earned income tax (EIT) or a personal income tax (PIC) on the May ballot.
The mandatory commission was formed to explore real estate tax relief in the district, in accordance with the new Act 1 property tax reform laws.
The commission has concluded that neither one of the taxes is favorable. Since the district must place the question on the ballot, however, the commission recommended a proposed EIT at the lowest rate possible, which is currently 1 percent.
During a presentation at the district's Monday night business meeting, commission member Barbara Siegel explained that no matter what the results, the tax will do nothing to improve the district.
"The shift is intended to be revenue neutral [for the district]," Siegel said. "And there could be additional costs associated with collecting an income tax."
Commission member Mark Berry said that the commission's discussions went further than only those who would immediately benefit from property tax relief. The short term versus long term effects of a new tax as well as who would be adversely affected by either tax were also explored.
"Any recommendation we make will have winners and losers," Berry said.
According to the commission's final report, 70 percent of the district's taxpayers could see a net reduction in school taxes between $1 and $1,200 in the initial period following the effective date of July. The remaining 30 percent will likely see a tax increase.
"We can't say how individuals will be affected," Barry said.
Barry added that the commission burdened itself with many questions that ultimately went unanswered. Specifically, will renters and retirees on fixed incomes see a worse impact from an EIC or a PIC, among others.
Barry said that the consensus was that renters with an EIC would likely be affected.
According to board president Curt Baker, if the community votes "no" on the recommendation, the board has no legal recourse to establish the tax. Should the board desire another ballot vote, it would have to assemble another commission and repeat the entire process over again.
Although Baker officially dismissed the commission members from further duty, Barry said that the members were still willing to work with the district in formulating the actual language for the ballot.
Board member Ed Wandersee, who served on the commission (the law allows for one school board member to participate), said that the committee worked diligently on several issues concerning the proposed tax, adding that it was "an agonizing decision" for some of the members to cave in to their points of view. Baker referred to the process of making the recommendation a "yeoman's task," adding, "this is easily the best tax commission in the state. Outstanding work."
The board and the commission also thanked district business manager Bob Cochran for his assistance in the process.