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June 12 Summary

The Perkiomen Valley School Board voted 5-4 at a special meeting held June 12, 2014, to approve the 2014-15 budget in the amount of $94,346,420 with a real estate tax increase of 2.52 percent. While the spending plan preserves some of the programs and personnel that had been considered for elimination, Board members cautioned that many of the same items will be up for consideration again next year as the district’s fiscal challenges continue.

 The Board held a special meeting after an initial vote on the budget resulted in a tie vote on June 9. At the June 12 meeting, Business Administration Jim Weaver, Superintendent Dr. Clifford Rogers and Assistant Superintendent Dr. Barbara Russell delivered a presentation that included a five-year projection for expenditures and revenues, a look at all the items that were considered to help close the budget gap, reviewed the rationale behind a proposal involving middle school exploratory language, and reviewed some additional alternatives for balancing the budget.

Mr. Weaver began the presentation by providing a glimpse into the district’s budgetary future, which indicates that revenues will grow at a slow rate, while expenditures will increase at a much sharper rate, leading to greater gaps between the two in future years. His projections indicate a cumulative total shortfall of $29.4 million over the next five years.

Dr. Rogers then provided an overview of all the items that were considered to help either reduce expenditures or enhance revenues as part of the budget process. More time was spent discussing the option to eliminate exploratory language class at sixth grade, which was proposed as a way to allow for more time to focus on core subjects like math and reading. Dr. Russell shared data that show reading and math scores on the PSSA decrease between fifth and sixth grades and stressed the need to prepare students for graduation requirements like the Keystone Exams. 

The presentation ended with two other items to add to the list – the resignation of a behavior support specialist (a position that will be not be replaced) and the shifting of Title I (federal) funds to help offset the cost of a reading specialist.

Board members agreed to accept both of these items, but voted down a motion to eliminate the exploratory language program at the middle school level. The Board also voted down a motion that would have allowed using money the district has set aside to pay for increases related to the Pennsylvania School Employees Retirement System (PSERS) to help balance the budget, and voted to put district membership for the Pennsylvania School Boards Association back into the budget. Board members expressed a desire to maintain PSBA membership since it will assist in the Board’s efforts to advocate for changes at the state level with regard to funding and mandates.

With these changes, the final budget was adopted in a 5-4 vote with a tax rate of 2.52 percent. Though this number is slightly above the Act I (Pennsylvania Taxpayer Relief Act) tax cap of 2.5 percent, the Board approved the use of .02 percent of a state-approved exception (with a dollar value of $12,445) to balance the budget. School districts are allowed to exceed the index without a voter referendum by using exceptions, which are granted by the state for certain costs that exceed the rate of inflation. A 2.52-percent tax increase will result in a $135 increase for a homeowner with an average assessment of $180,000.

Board members encouraged members of the public to participate in the 2015-16 budget process by attending Finance Committee meetings when they begin in the fall. For a list of Finance Committee meeting dates, please click here.

June 9 Summary

Following a split vote on the 2014-15 budget held June 9, Perkiomen Valley School Board members organized a special meeting for Thursday, June 12, 2014 to review the budget once more.

Board members voted 4-4 to approve the budget, but with one Board member not in attendance, a majority could not be reached. As a result, the proposed 2014-15 budget did not pass. The vote was held after a presentation by Business Administrator Jim Weaver on the spending plan, which after months of review has been pared down to significantly reduce the gap between revenues and expenditures. The final proposed budget of $94,331,393 calls for a tax increase of 2.49 percent, which is below the Act 1 index (state-mandated tax cap) of 2.5 percent.

At last week’s work session, Board members agreed to a number of reductions (see below) to close the gap. On June 9, the revised budget plan included administrative recommendations to take additional reductions in salary due to employee resignations/reassignments, a reduction to summer helpers from 20 to 15, and reductions for negotiated salary adjustments.

The proposal to change the exploratory language program at the middle school level (requiring the furlough of two teachers) was one that several Board members felt they could not approve without additional information upon which to base a decision.

The intent is to have that additional information available by Thursday to assist with the decision-making process. The special budget meeting is scheduled for 7 p.m. at a location to be determined. Please continue to watch the website for details.

June 2 Summary

The Perkiomen Valley School Board continued to reduce the 2014-15 budgetary shortfall during its work session on Monday, June 2. Though no final decisions were made, Board members expressed support for a number of gap-closing measures that, if implemented with the passage of the final budget, would bring the proposed tax increase down to 2.82 percent.

The School Board has been considering a number of different options over the last several months to reduce the gap between expenditures and revenues. As of June 2, that gap was projected to be approximately $1.3 million if the tax increase is kept to the Act 1 index (tax cap) of 2.5 percent.

During the June 2 work session, Board members reviewed a list of proposed reductions and revenue enhancers. The items discussed, and whether or not the item was supported, are below:

  • Savings through staff attrition (not replacing employees who have left/will leave their positions due to retirements, resignations or reassignments – this includes reductions in teaching, support and administrative staffs) – supported
  • Adjustment to the STA (transportation provider) contract – supported
  • Reduction to BuxMont Consortium administrative fees – supported
  • Eliminating elementary summer school – supported
  • Ending practice of paying for a student’s first Advanced Placement Exam – supported
  • Reducing building and department budgets by 10 percent – supported
  • Reducing the technology budget by 5 percent – supported
  • Reducing the Athletic Department budget by 10 percent – supported, with the caveat that 9th Grade baseball, basketball and lacrosse teams, and the 7th grade football program would be removed from the gap-closing list
  • Increasing activity fees from $50 to $100 and the maximum amount paid for activity fees from $150 to $300 – supported
  • Change athletic event ticket prices to a uniform $5 (currently $6/adult and $3/student) – supported
  • Graduation fee – rejected
  • Increasing Perkiomen Valley High School student parking fee from $100 to $125 – supported
  • Cutting or reducing pay for “summer helpers” (assist with maintenance/custodial work during the summer months) – tabled
  • Elimination of district-issued cell phones – tabled
  • Salary adjustment based on negotiations with employee groups – tabled
  • Elimination of Pennsylvania School Boards Association (PSBA) membership – supported
  • Bus waiver – rejected
  • Move exploratory language course or first language experience at the middle school level to seventh-grade to allow more time for core instruction in grade 6 – supported
  • Elimination of elementary Spanish program – rejected
This list, when combined with reductions supported in earlier budget discussions, reduces the shortfall to $1,742,638, and would require a tax increase of 2.82 percent to balance the budget. To get from a 2.82-percent tax increase down to a 2.5-percent increase, another $206,278 would need to be trimmed from the budget.

Several items discussed at earlier meetings have been removed from consideration, such as reducing the high school’s core area high school teachers, combining Academic and Prep track classes, and moving the start of the strings program from third grade to fourth grade. With the Board’s latest discussion, the proposed elimination of 9th grade sports teams and the 7th grade football program, and the proposed elimination of the elementary Spanish program have also been removed from the gap-closing list.

Board members will resume their discussion of the budget at the June 9 business meeting, when a formal budget presentation and final adoption of the budget is scheduled to occur. School districts must adopt budgets by June 30, 2014.

Important Dates in the 2014-2015 Budget Process
Date Meeting Topic Click on Link to View Presentation
November 11, 2013 School Board Meeting Review of 2014-15 revenues Presentation
December 9, 2013 School Board Meeting Comprehensive budget presentation for 2014-15
Click here for a summary of the discussion
January 13, 2014 School Board Meeting Presentation of 2014-15 Proposed Preliminary Budget
Click here for a summary of the discussion
February 10, 2014 School Board Meeting Budget presentation and Board votes to adopt proposed preliminary budget
Click here for a summary of the discussion

PDE-2028 Preliminary General Fund Budget
April 7, 2014 School Board Work Session Budget presentation
Click here for a summary of the discussion
April 14, 2014 School Board Meeting Budget presentation
Click here for a summary of the discussion
May 5, 2014 School Board Work Session Budget presentation and Board votes to adopt proposed final budget
Click here for a summary of the discussion
June 2, 2014 School Board Work Session Gap-closing list discussed Gap-closing list
June 9, 2014 School Board Meeting Board ties on vote to approve final budget for 2014-15 Presentation
June 12, 2014 Special Meeting Board approves final budget 5-Year Budget Forecast
Updated Budget Presentation

Additional Budget Information:
For more information about the budget and the budgeting process, contact:

Jim Weaver
Business Administrator

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