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Central Bucks raises taxes, cites need to staff up


For the third consecutive year, the Central Bucks School District is raising taxes.

In a unanimous vote, the school board recently approved a 2.75 percent millage rate hike, meaning those with an average assessment of $40,000, will see tax bills spike by approximately $141, annually.

The fourth-largest district in the state will support a $388 million budget, up 6.6 percent from last year. In the previous two tax hikes, homeowners saw smaller increases of about $75 per year. In the prior six years, taxes had remained the same.

Board member Karen Smith said it was a difficult decision to vote for the tax increase due to what she sees as wasteful spending by the board majority on an outside public relations firm and a law firm.

“Those are one-time expenses and we are facing recurring expenses due to the growth of some of our student populations,” Smith said in an email. “We also have been victim to inflation, as have the families in our community.”

Among the reasons cited for the increase is the district’s decision to bring more special education students, including those on the autism spectrum, back to CB schools from other districts offering specialized learning programs. District superintendent Abe Lucabaugh said earlier this year at a widely attended public meeting about the possible closing of Linden Elementary School, that families “should not have to travel outside the district” for those special services.

The ability to keep Linden open and utilize all the district’s 15 elementary schools, Lucabaugh said at the earlier meeting, is also due in part to the district’s growing number of multi-language students. In 2015, there were 150 children in the district for whom English was not their first language. This year, there were about 600 and that number is expected rise, Lucabaugh said. “It’s an obligation and privilege to teach these children and meet them where they are,” he added at the time.

All of these factors will require more teachers and support staff, the administration said in discussing the tax increase. Additionally, Central Bucks will need to raise its salaries to be competitive and retain employees, especially for non-educational support staff, some of whom are starting at less than $15 per hour, administration officials said. More bus drivers will also be needed, positions that have been increasingly hard to fill since the pandemic.

Full day kindergarten, set to begin in the 2025 school year, is also expected to add to the district’s expenses.

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