As the graph below shows, our school district tax rate is among the lowest in the county. Only Southern Lehigh and Parkland enjoy lower school taxes:
Tax increases? There will not be any school tax increase this year for East Penn taxpayers. Moreover, in the decade between 2001 and 2011, the overall increase in taxes was only 1% higher than the level of inflation (a compound annual rate of 3.4% compared to 2.4%).
None of this information should leave us sitting on our laurels. There are certainly many ways we can make the district more efficient and cut unnecessary costs. But I believe the discussion of how to do so will be most productive if we start with a clear-eyed understanding of the fiscal record of the district in the recent past.
It is also possible to cut too much; we should take a practical, rather than ideological, approach to taxes. Our schools deserve the support they need to continue to improve the quality of education. The crisis in the Allentown school system is a sober reminder of what can happen when public education lacks adequate funding.