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Proposed 2019-20 School Budget Calls for 2.8 Percent Increase
Written by Bradley Schlegel, Staff Writer

            The Upper Perkiomen School Board voted last week to approve a proposed 2019-20 budget with proposed millage increase of 2.8 percent.  The $64 million budget calls for a property tax increase of $106.46 for the median property owner in Montgomery County and $83.84 for the median property owner in Berks County.

            The budget for the next school year includes a 3.9 percent increase over the current year ($2.435 million). Increases in salaries ($717,192), debt service ($625,542) and benefits ($558,502) account for most of the growth.

            The proposed staffing increases include a math/science teacher at the middle school, an elementary music teacher and a transportation director or coordinator. The projection also fully funds a proposal by acting Superintendent Andria Farina to hire a student assistant counselor at Marlborough and Hereford elementary schools and the district's 4th and 5th Grade Center to train a group of para-professionals as registered behavioral technicians and consider adding a fourth full-time school psychologist.

            In April, at a Special Education and Pupil Services Committee meeting, Farina explained that the intent of the recommendation is to support the emotional needs of students and to support classroom teachers with strategies to collect necessary data that "saturates a multi-tiered support process."

            The proposed tax increase would generate an additional $1.618 million in revenue, according to Sandra Kassel, the district's business administrator. However, Kassel told the board during the May 9 regular meeting that a $1.5 million transfer from the district fund balance would be necessary to balance the budget.

            "This budget is very, very tight," she said during the meeting.

            Member Raeann Hofkin voted against the action item. Vice President Mike Elliot did not cast a vote. Elliot attended the meeting but was not in the meeting room when the vote was taken.

            After the meeting, Hofkin explained her vote by calling the 2.8 percent too high. She could not provide a lower rate that she could support. Hofkin also disputed a claim by Kassel that the district will not end up with a surplus.

            After the meeting, the Kassel stated that her early estimate has the district spending an additional $300,000 due to increased expenditures.
            "We always end up with a surplus," Hofkin said following the adjournment.

            A timeline presented by Kassel calls for the board to adopt the final budget on June 13.

            The proposed budget is currently available for public inspection at the district's Education Center as well as at the libraries at each of the district's schools, along with the Upper Perkiomen Valley Library, located at 350 Main Street in Red Hill, and





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