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Budget Concerns Top QCSD Board Discussions
Written by Jennifer Frieze, Correspondent
2023-05-17

            At last Thursday's meeting of the Quakertown Community School Board, officials reviewed updates to the proposed final budget for the 2023-2024 school year. They also reviewed and acted on the proposed 2023-2024 budget for the Upper Bucks Community Technical School (UBCTS).

            The proposed final budget update for 2023-2024 comes to a total of $131,880,549. This amount includes $2,235,000 in capital expenditures and $1,200,000 in budgetary reserve. The proposed millage tax rate is 175.65, an increase of two percent over the 2022-2023 millage rate of 172.21.

            Key highlights of the budget update included a real estate tax increase of two percent, new salaries and benefits totaling $1,000,000. It also consisted of capital improvements in the amount of $2,235,000:  $1,250,000 capital improvements at an annual increase of $250,000;  $735,000 towards the high school bleachers and track; and additional funds of $250,000 for Memorial Park. The first installment payment of this project occurred in 2022-2023. This includes a one-time cost of $985,000. 

            The board stressed that this is not a final budget, but a "proposed" budget update. The budget is under further review for cost reduction measures to consider a zero percent tax increase for the final budget.

            On May 25th, the finance committee and the school board will provide another update on the proposed budget. On June 8th, the board will vote to adopt the 2023-2024 final budget.

            The budget for the UBCTS took a lengthy discussion for the roll call vote. The budget has been presented to the finance committee and the school board at past meetings. Board President Glenn Iosue said, "This is the presentation given at the board and finance committee. It was presented to us twice and it's now again for a third time before us for a vote."

            Key points of the presentation included a balanced budget. This was an important aspect because the budget has not been balanced for a few years. In addition, growth was based on expenditures rather than revenue. It also took into consideration the surge in enrollment and that is expected to increase.

            The budget corrected an over-reliance on fund balance as a source of revenue. This was not a sustainable option for the school to continue providing quality technical education. The budget also took into consideration the needs of students, parents, community, industry, and business trends.

            UBCTS hired a new director and business manager in August 2022. The financial audit for the school was completed in March 2023. The school was struggling to maintain balanced books and sustain itself.

            This year's proposed budget was over $4,500,000. An increase of $640,000 from last year.

            "These students chose to go there and we need to support them," said board member Chris Spear.

            Vice President Jon Kern replied, "This isn't about not supporting the tech school and I would challenge the assertion that the $640k means people won't go to school.

            "I would prefer to catch up, but why does it have to be in one fell swoop and maybe there are things we need to do structurally… I would like to see more of a prorated reaction to the sins of the past."  Spear replied, "This is a prorated reaction."

            After an extensive discussion, a roll call vote took place. A motion to pass the budget as presented failed 7-2. Board members Spear and Ronald Jackson were in favor of passing the budget. 

            Member Diane Richino explained that she is an advocate for the tech school and that it's an amazing place. She continued to clarify that there needs to be a clear plan as to what is needed and prepare accordingly for the increase in enrolled students.

            "What is our endgame here? I don't know if we have one or a vision of what that looks like. And that to me is what's missing from all of this."


 

 

 

 

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