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Support assured, Palisades adopts no-new-tax budget

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With a boost from state education funding remaining at the present level, the Palisades School District has approved a no-tax-increase budget for 2020-2021. The budget was adopted by unanimous vote at the June 3 dial-in public school board meeting.

The $48.2 million budget is supported by $10 million from the state. The board had adopted a resolution at its May 20 meeting, noting that it was already underfunded by the state, and that while the “global pandemic will cause a shortfall in revenue for the commonwealth’s upcoming 2020-2021 fiscal year budget, failure of the General Assembly to maintain its current level of education funding would irreparably damage the students of Palisades School District and the entire Palisades community.”

During his report at the June 3 meeting, as liaison to the Pennsylvania School Boards Association (PSBA), board President Bob Musantry said that the state Assembly had agreed to keep education funding at the present level “through the November election, but then agreed to keep it that way throughout the 2020-2021 year.”

The no-tax increase budget means millage stays at 115, and the median annual tax bill at $3,780. District Business Manager Drew Bishop noted that in spite of major expense increases over the last 10 years, particularly a 179 percent increase in the public district’s cost for private charter schools, taxes have only increased by 5.6 per cent. He added that another major expense increase, pension cost, had been ameliorated by a special spike fund set up and maintained by previous boards and their administrations. Musantry said that charter school funding reform remains a major lobbying effort at PSBA.

Among district expense reductions to help arrive at the no-tax increase were a $347,000 reduction in the salary line, without any consequent cuts noted in programs and services, and postponement of a $275,000 paving project for Palisades Middle School.

Also at the June 3 meeting, student representatives reported success with pandemic-driven adaptations for senior awards and graduation ceremonies. Superintendent Bridget O’Connell reported that by the end of the school year, the district will have distributed over 25,000 breakfasts and lunches for residents, from locations at the high school and Tinicum Elementary, which will continue on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays through June 12.

Starting June 15, the distribution will continue at the high school only, with pickup times remaining between 11 a.m. and 12:30 p.m. The board approved the summertime meal program, noting it was self-sustaining within the district’s food services department.


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