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Pennridge mulls historic budget, no new negatives

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For the first time in at least two decades, the Pennridge School Board is considering a budget proposal that does not increase property taxes, does not include a structural deficit, and does not include new borrowing.

Even with such fiscal restraint, teachers and students will continue to have access to the resources they need for a quality education, according to district officials.

“This budget is the result of the hard work of the school board, Business Administrator Sean Daubert, his staff, building administration and all department heads as they continue to provide what students and staff need while being mindful of taxpayer dollars,” said Superintendent David Bolton.

If approved, this would be the third year in a row – and fifth time in the last decade – without a tax increase in the Pennridge School District.

The proposed $141.5 million spending plan was presented at the March 12 finance committee meeting. Daubert said he does not expect any significant changes to occur to the budget. That would mean the owner of a property assessed at $31,120 – the median homestead/farmstead average – would continue to pay $4,209 in school tax for the 2019-20 year.

Through increased revenue and a reduction in administrative costs, the proposed budget provides an additional guidance counselor at the middle school level, three instructional coaches to provide direct classroom support to all teachers, and the addition of a STEM special teacher for all students in grades 1-5.

From a facility perspective, Bolton said, the budget continues to fully fund the district’s six-year Capital Project Plan that provides for the upkeep and improvement of district facilities without the need to borrow money. The capital plan prioritizes facility needs, bridging the gap to when debt payments will start to drop and provide more flexibility for the district, he said.

Highlights of the capital budget include the addition of air conditioning to large spaces at all seven elementary schools, the addition of one-way busing for kindergarten students, and extensive paving throughout the district.

Board President Megan Banis-Clemens praised Bolton for “meeting all the goals that have been set for him.” She said the budget prioritizes educating “the whole child” and providing staff with the tools they need to be successful “ while reducing non-essential costs and working within our means with a balanced budget.”

Banis-Clemens said the district’s solid long-term financial planning “eliminates the need to raise taxes or borrow money for the foreseeable future.

“On behalf of the board,” she added, ”I would like to express how proud and honored we are to serve this community alongside such passionate staff who, at all levels and in all areas, work hard to make a difference for students.”

The administration will continue to examine revenue and expenditure projections before approving a Proposed Final Budget on May 13 and a Final Budget on June 17.

“Our goal is always to find the most efficient use of taxpayer funds while meeting the educational needs of our students,” said Dr. Bolton.


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