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Souderton school board hopes to shave $5M deficit


An early draft of the 2024-2025 Souderton Area School District operating budget shows a $5 million deficit.

Michael Taylor, CPA, board secretary and finance committee member, told the school board finance committee at its March meeting that Gov. Josh Shapiro’s proposed budget reflects just a $500,000 increase in funds to the Souderton School District, the smallest increase in state funds in several years. He also commented that the district is unlikely to see any further increase in state funding.

The school board will be working on the budget in the upcoming weeks, with a preliminary budget coming this month and a final budget presented in June.

Taylor said there is no “fluff” in this draft of the budget. Unfortunately, the district’s needs and costs are increasing, while attendance and state funding is declining, he said.

Meanwhile, special education costs and enrollment are increasing. Five years ago, 17% of students had Individualized Education Programs. This year, it’s 27%.

Stephen Nelson, board vice president and finance committee chair, said the board is committed to “not cut services” and assured that students will not suffer.

One of the items under consideration to cut costs would be to move some contracted special education services in house.

Taylor said the board must focus on managing expenditures because the district cannot expect any increase in revenues. He and finance committee member Christopher Hey reported that 70% of the district’s revenue comes from local taxes.

The March 13 session marked the Souderton Area School District’s first video recording of a board committee meeting. Additionally, in response to the public’s request, copies of the budget and the meeting’s documents and presentations were available on a table and on the SASD’s website.

In other business on March 13, Hey advised the audience that Dr. Jeffrey Pammer, principal of Indian Valley Middle School, will retire at the end of the school year.

The Education Personnel Committee looked at curriculum revisions for middle school and reading and writing program review updates and a SASD Special Education Plan Overview — the school district is required to submit a plan every three years.

Also presented was a five-year plan at the secondary level that covered behavior, academic and socioeconomic factors and the use of data to impact educational outcomes. The board members also heard a project update on West Broad Street Elementary School.

An update on the proposed multi-purpose field was also provided. Soil and storm water issues are being reviewed; a May report is scheduled. A possible fall construction is being considered.

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