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UPSD President: Tax Raise Unavoidable
Written by Bradley Schlegel, Staff Writer

            The need to raise taxes during the upcoming school year is unavoidable, according to Upper Perkiomen's school board president. Melanie Cunningham described it as required to facilitate necessary improvements.
            "Not one of [the board members] wants taxes to go up," she said during the May 23 board workshop meeting.
            Cunningham identified the age of five of the six schools in the district as a significant reason for the hike. She pointed out that the middle school is the only one that is five years old.
            The chair of the board's finance committee, Cunningham said that "probably $30 million worth of work needs to be done at the high school."

            She also pointed out that the turf fields that are probably five years over their life [expectancy] will eventually have to be replaced.
            The board president, speaking in response to a May 23 Town and Country newspaper article and social media comments, specifically cited the need to repair roofs at multiple schools. Cunningham also identified the district's contract with its teachers as taking up the bulk of the budget.
            "I just wanted to make it clear that we're not saying, 'We love to tax everybody,' because we don't," she said during the committee report portion of the meeting. "Our facilities don't just fix themselves."

            Roof repairs are planned at three schools. J.P. Prego, chair of the Facilities Committee, estimated the total cost of required repairs at the high school, the 4th & 5th Grade Center and Hereford Elementary at $9 million.
            According to Prego, the district plans to repair roofs that received grades of D or F from a survey completed last year by Mark J. Sobeck Roof Consulting Inc. Earlier this month, the board voted to approve three action items for re-roofing design and inspection proposals with the building consultant, based in Luzerne, totaling $72,188.

            On May 9, the board passed a preliminary final budget – totaling $80.981 million – for the 2024-25 school year. It included a 7.34 percent tax increase.
            During a subsequent committee meeting, administrators presented revisions to reduce the projected shortfall by $2.1 million. The members also considered additional cost-saving opportunities.
            The board is scheduled to consider final approval of the budget at its June 20 meeting. Administrators will continue to revise its details until then.

            In personnel matters, the board approved the retirements of Howard Holtje, a custodian, on July 5, and Patricia Keller, administrative assistant, effective Aug. 16. It also accepted the resignation of Nicole Leight, an administrative assistant, effective June 14.

            The board also voted to appoint three new professional employees for the upcoming school year. Molly McCarthy will teach physician education at the high school. Dan Campbell will serve as a reading specialist for the 4th & 5th Grade Center. Danielle Rahill will teach at Marlborough Elementary. It also approved a leave of absence for Jamie Bartholomew, for at least six weeks, beginning Sept. 16.

            Trina Schaarschmidt did not attend the meeting which lasted 41 minutes.






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