He said that includes elimination of 4.5 teaching positions –two in the high school and two in elementary schools -- and two administrative positions through attrition.
He said most central office departments cut their budgets by 5 percent compared to their 2013-14 budgets.
The 2015-16 budget will be the seventh and final one done by Seidenberger since he became East Penn’s superintendent. He said it is the product of a team effort, adding “the staff has the interests of the students at heart.”
He said the goal of the budget was to maintain all existing academic programs and student activities.
Seidenberger, who is retiring at the end of June, called East Penn “the best school district I ever served in – this is a marvelous place.”
He called it a triple A district, where students excel in academics, arts and athletics.
The superintendent noted other school districts have cut teachers, programs and opportunities.
“I’m proud that we haven’t had that kind of circumstance in East Penn during the economic downturn in the last four or five years.”
He said the public is catching on to many statewide education issues.
For example, he said that education “finally” is the number one issue in this year’s campaign for Pennsylvania governor.
He also noted parents are beginning to question the value of charter schools and cyber charter schools.
Superintendent blasts charter school costs
Seidenberger indicated the new budget has to address increases in pensions, benefits, salaries, increased student enrollment in special education and charter and cyber charter schools.
“I am not necessarily anti-charter school,” said Seidenberger. “I am anti funding of charter schools the way it’s happening right now.’
Seidenberger repeatedly told the school board that working on the budget made him a cranky old man for the last six weeks.
“I am upset and angry,” declared the superintendent.
“What angers me the most is when I see advertisements that cyber charter schools and charter schools are free. They are not free. In this budget before you, there is approximately $3.9 million allocated to charter and cyber charter school tuition for next year.
“That’s an increase of over $300,000.”
He said charter schools are the single biggest expense faced by the district after pensions, salaries and benefits.
Seidenberger said he could bring every single student being educated in a cyber or brick-and-mortar charter school back into the East Penn District for about $500,000 in new staff.
He said that would leave $3.4 million. “We’d have no tax increase this year and about $330,000 left over.”
Academically, said Seidenberger, public schools are outperforming charter and cyber charter schools.
“It’s led to a parallel school system in Pennsylvania,” complained Seidenberg. “They’re treated one way with one set of rules and public schools are treated another way.”