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UPSD Officials Working to Close $4.5 Million Shortfall in 2021-22 Budget
Written by Bradley Schlegel, Staff Writer

            Administrators in the Upper Perkiomen School District started the process of developing a budget for the upcoming school year with a $4.9 million deficit. Last week, the district's business administrator presented a preliminary version of the 2021-22 budget to the school board with $400,000 in reduced expenses.

            During a basic overview during the April 22 workshop meeting, Sandra Kassel explained to the members that in order to approve the $70.431 million budget without any tax increases, they would need to approve a $4.565 million transfer from its reserve fund. She also identified four potential options for a tax increase, their impact on property owners and amount of money that would be required from the reserve fund to make up the difference.

            "The budget is tight," Kassel said during the meeting, held on Zoom. "The additional costs are real, and they have to be considered."

            At a one percent tax increase, the median owner in Montgomery County would pay an additional $40.50. A Berks County property owner would owe an additional $31.62. A transfer of $4.174 million would be required.  At two percent, those numbers increase to $81.05 and $62.23, respectively. At that rate, a $3.783 million transfer would be necessary.  At three percent, the costs expand to $121.57 and $94.84, respectively. The transfer total drops to $3.391 million.

            With a 3.7 percent tax hike, the median assessed values would go up by $149.94 and $116.99, respectively. Administrators would then need to transfer $3.117 million.

            A projected 5.67 percent increase in expenses includes $996,576 in salaries, $817,770 for newly contracted services - including more than $600,000 for transportation - $444,207 in retirements and $1.547 million in budgetary reserve. That figure includes the cost of charter schools, which has doubled from $1.5 million, according to Superintendent Allyn Roche.

            Administrators estimate the need for $1.008 million to fund the addition of 12 new staff positions, according to the proposal. They expect to spend $855,875 to fund the implementation of full-day kindergarten. However the budgeted portion of the cost, to cover three new teachers and two specialists, totals $562,538.

            According to Kassel, the Finance Committee has examined every salary and benefit in the proposal. She said the members will continue to look at ways to drive down expenses. The administrator invited the public to attend the next committee meeting, at 5: 30 p.m on May 3, to continue the conversation.

            "We're still looking at where we can make reductions," Kassel said.

            The board expects to approve a proposed final budget on May 13. Adoption of the final budget is scheduled for June 17, according to Kassel's presentation.






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