Monday was the last day of school in East Penn, and it also marked the school board’s final vote to approve the budget for next fall.
The district will spend approximately $149 million in 2017-2018, which requires a tax increase of 2.19%. This last number is sometimes the only number people look at when evaluating district spending. But it doesn’t tell the whole story. Over the course of the last few months, the administration and board have been able to steadily reduce that tax increase, from 3.77% initially, then 2.9% just last month. The final 2.19% is less than the amount allowed by state law and below the overall rate of inflation (currently 2.2%).
The district’s spending per student is also lower than both the state and county averages (click here for data). And yet East Penn provides opportunities, experiences, and outcomes for students that are far above average. The final budget does not provide many of the things we might wish for our schools. It includes budget cuts in several areas. But it does maintain our excellent programs in the arts, music, and athletics. It also expands the science program in the elementary schools, special education at the high school, and fully funds the first of three stages in improving the district’s educational technology.
As anyone who has managed even a family budget knows, the budgeting process is always a process of compromise and balancing different needs. Next year’s district budget isn’t perfect, but I think it is a good compromise that balances the different needs of our community.
Are you feeling frustrated or concerned about the budget process in our district? Or just want to learn more about it? I’ve put together a series of short articles on the budget to help. Please check them out by clicking below: