SOUDERTON AREA SCHOOL NEWS

It will be the highest allowed by the state for the second consecutive year.

Souderton Area School Board to approve budget with maximum property tax increase

Credit: Souderton Area School District

  • Schools

The Souderton Area School District’s 2024-2025 budget will include a maximum property tax increase allowed by the state for the second consecutive year.

The news was confirmed during the final budget status presentation at Wednesday evening’s school board finance committee meeting. The tax increase will be 5.3%, the maximum allowable by state law.

Board members attributed the hike to inflation, soaring special education costs, charter school tuition payments and insufficient state funding.

Director of Business Affairs Michael Taylor described the tax increase as necessary to avoid similar increases in the future. He painted a rosier picture of the district’s future fiscal condition due to upcoming debt service reductions and more cost-efficient special education services, including in-house rather than contracted services.

Current budget projections include total revenue of $153,386,125 and total expenditures of $153,836,071, yielding a $449,946 deficit. Taylor said that the administration is working on some final revisions to ensure a balanced budget.

“And we’re confident we’re gonna get there,” said Taylor. “We want to make smart revisions to the budget. We’re not cutting programs or positions; we’re making reasonable adjustments.”

The budget notably accounts for an estimated $600,000 in savings from a series of proposed cyber charter funding reforms, including an $8,000 tuition cap and a tiered payment formula to reflect actual service costs.

While the reforms were recently approved by the Democratic-controlled Pennsylvania House of Representatives, they are still awaiting action in the GOP-controlled Senate. However, Superintendent Frank Gallagher, who has lobbied for changes to charter school funding formulas, expressed optimism about the reforms’ prospects.

The final 2024-2025 budget is scheduled for approval at the June 26 board action meeting.

Renovation projects

The board received an update on the Indian Crest Middle School and Salford Hills Elementary School renovation projects. At Indian Crest, the upgrades will include new flooring, windows, wall finishes and LED lighting.

Other planned improvements are new auditorium lighting, flooring, seating and curtains, a new main entrance staircase, new gymnasium bleachers, renovated locker rooms and an extra multi-purpose classroom in the library. Additionally, the Art and Family and Consumer Science rooms will be relocated to provide additional space for special education services.

At Salford Hills, the upgrades will include 10 additional parking spots, a secure, accessible entrance to the building and a 5,400-square-foot addition, which will house the school library and special education classrooms.

Taylor said the administration is planning to place both projects out to bid in August and September and present the bids at the October board action meeting.

High School Program of Studies

High School Principal Sam Varano presented some updates to the high school program of studies, including an opportunity for AP Physics (Mechanics) students to gain college credit at the University of Pittsburgh and a mentorship component of the Finance and Investing class to enable students to learn beyond the classroom. He also presented a revised mathematics course sequence, with students completing Geometry before Algebra 2, starting in the 2025-2026 school year.

The next Souderton school board meeting is on June 26 at 7 p.m. For more information, visit soudertonsd.org.

This article appears courtesy of a content share agreement between North Penn Now and The Reporter. To read more stories like this, visit www.thereporteronline.com.


Thursday, July 25, 2024
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