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Souderton school board cuts $1M from proposed budget


With two months to go, the Souderton Area School District has trimmed the proposed 2024-25 school year operating budget deficit from $5 million to $4 million.

Appointed Board Secretary Michael Taylor, a member of the district’s finance committee, gave the board and the public the budget update on April 10.

Board members have said their intent is that the estimated $156 million spending plan will include no program cuts and no student will suffer from the 2024-25 budget recommendations.

According to the updated Souderton Area School District Budget, the deficit reduction came from updated real estate tax receipts, earnings on revenue (increased by $500K) and cost-cutting measures.

However, the current state budget is just a proposal and the dollar amount it’ll send to the district is not finalized, so those numbers are only estimates.

Taylor highlighted the issue of the cost of special education programs. Many of the programs are state mandated and are either unfunded or inadequately funded, which has a negative effect on the budget.

While special education enrollment continues to rise, the needs and costs also continue to rise.

In 2014, special education costs were 16.5% of the operating costs. In 2022, the costs rose to 20.71% of the operating budget. In dollars, the cost per special education student in 2014 was $19,004 and in 2022 the cost rose to $24,870.

Assistant superintendent Christopher D. Hey expressed the board’s frustration that the school district is required by law to pass a budget by the end of June, however, the state often does not pass its budget until months later. Board members and administrators have visited — and will continue to visit — Harrisburg to advocate for the prompt passage of the budget with adequate school district funding.

Board members requested that the public let their voices be heard by their legislatures regarding the inadequate funding to the school district.

Dr. Katie Kennedy-Reilly, director of curriculum, instruction, assessment and technology, presented elementary school data for the district’s Comprehensive Plan 2022-25.

Its focus continues to be a Multi-Tiered System of Support (MTSS) covering the whole child, which includes academic, behavior and socioeconomic considerations.

Six principals took part in an Elementary Winter Data Presentation and came away with school-specific data, goals, methodology, vision and themes at the student, classroom, grade level, building and district levels.

Kennedy-Reilly also proposed an English Language Arts (ELA) K-8 Core Instructional Materials program, Into Reading & Into Writing. The cost she negotiated for the program would be paid over a three-year period and the program would incur no costs from 2028 to 2031.

The program, recommended by Kennedy-Reilly and Curriculum Supervisor John Franzen and math coordinator Fran Masin-Moyer following three months of study, was unanimously approved on April 25.

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