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UPSD Board Reduces Size of Tax Hike
Written by Bradley Schlegel, Staff Writer

            Taxpayers in the Upper Perkiomen School District ended up with a smaller than expected tax increase. Last week, the members unanimously approved a 3.5 percent millage rate increase for the 2024-25 school year.

            The hike, a 4.93 percent tax increase, will cost property owners an additional $150 for each $100,000 worth of valuation. The district will fund a $2.6 million deficit with a transfer from its fund balance, according to Drew Bishop, the district's business administrator. The transaction will leave the fund balance at $2.9 million.

            On June 20, the board started deliberations on the approval of next year's $79.093 million budget with a 3.9 percent millage rate increase that would have included a $164.09 increase for the average property owner, as recommended by the Facilities Committee. Keith McCarrick started the discussion by proposing the reduction.

            A member of the committee, McCarrick described the tax increase as necessary to take care of certain issues throughout the district. He said the district has been burdened by the issue of rising prices.

            "We would like to have a lower increase," McCarrick said during the final board meeting of the 2023-24 school year that included 34 action items and lasted 64 minutes.

            McCarrick identified a key issue as a lack of funding from the state and federal governments. He expressed concerns regarding recent allocations by the Pennsylvania General Assembly in response to a lawsuit declaring its previous funding system was unconstitutional.
            The member noted Norristown and Pottstown received more money than in previous years. McCarrick declared, without providing additional evidence, that the district is being discriminated against.

            The final vote included the removal of two positions from the budget as recommended by the finance committee during a June 10 meeting: a high school coach/MTSS coordinator position and a maintenance supervisor with a projected savings of $185,000. A special education supervisor remains in the final budget, according to President Melanie Cunningham.

            In related budget news, the board approved its portion of the Western Montgomery Career and Technology Center budget for 2024-2025. The members voted to contribute $2.512 million, an increase of $238,146 or 10.47 percent, according to the language of an action item.

            In personnel news, the board voted to accept the resignations of paraprofessionals Clara Guntz, summer custodian James Weller and Melanie Ziegler, IT technician Nicholas Chandler effective June 27. The members also approved the appointments of four professional employees for the upcoming school year. They include Amanda David, a K-3 instructional coach at Hereford Elementary; Nick Fox, a special education teacher at the 4th & 5th Grade Center; Stephanie Beinhauer, a high school Spanish teacher and Lindsay Bartalotta, an elementary art teacher.

            The board approved the hiring of Fabio Quiceno, a full-time custodian; Sarah Conrad as an administrative assistant to the athletic director and summer custodians Tyler Kulp, Clark Trowbridge, Jaime Squiccimara, Gina Bryan and Brayden Adam. The board also approved a leave of absence for Donna Paul and Holly Yabroski through the end of the 2023-24 school year.

            The members held an executive session immediately prior to the public meeting for the purpose of discussing matters of safety and security, according to Solicitor Kyle Somers. He said the members also received a legally required report from the school's safety and security coordinator.






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