Upper Perkiomen discusses budget decisions

Published: 12:33 AM EDT Apr 26, 2013

The Upper Perkiomen School Board Finance Committee claimed that programs that have been rumored to be cut to balance the budget will remain “intact” as budget discussions continue. The current preliminary budget is an estimated $52,204,674 for next school year. This number is a 2.34% increase over the 2012-13 Budget.

Finance Committee Chairman Harold Quinque opened the meeting by stating that programs such as Kindergarten, music and the arts, sports, and “as of right now custodial outsourcing” are all in the preliminary budget. He stated that the final decision regarding outsourcing will be made at the regular School Board meeting to be held on May 9th.

“Nobody wants to see the quality of the education in the Valley to be lost,” stated Quinque.

The Finance Committee focused on five basic areas of the preliminary budget: Special Education, personnel changes, legal services, psychological services, and funding options. According to Suzanne Miller, Director of Special Education, 15% of the overall budget is allocated specifically for Special Education programs and services. The District is legally obligated to provide certain programs and services to Special Education students, so this portion of the budget cannot be significantly decreased but can change overnight.

According to Assistant Superintendent Francis Leskowicz, the District plans on having approximately 12 changes in personnel for next school year. Leskowicz mentioned that there will be one addition to the Special Education teaching staff at the Middle School and two transfers of High School teachers to the Middle School, one in Social Studies and one in Mathematics. The District plans on eliminating an estimated nine positions to help balance the budget for next year, including Instructional Support Teachers, Instructional Assistants, and contracted professionals.

When asked if these professionals have been informed of the impending job loss, Superintendent Elizabeth Hammond Yonson replied by stating that some of the positions being eliminated are those retiring and just not being replaced.

An estimated four contracted professionals will be eliminated under this personnel change. However, these individuals are not District employees, so their elimination is the result of an eliminated contract between Upper Perkiomen and General Health Resources.

“When we were looking at the budget and tried to tighten up and restructure, we decided just to eliminate them completely,” stated Yonson.

The Principals from Hereford Elementary and Marlborough Elementary commented on the projected loss of the Instructional Support Teachers at the Elementary level. Both principals stated that the Instructional Support Teachers are an “integral part of their staff.”

Quinque took their comments into consideration and informed the audience that the Board would further discuss the proposed eliminated positions.

The Committee was presented three options to fund the preliminary budget, from a 0% millage increase to a 4.4% millage increase.

With a 0% millage increase, taxes will be increased by 0.11%, which will cost District residents in Berks County approximately $2.81 per year and District residents in Montgomery County approximately $3.53 per year. With a 2% millage increase, which is the index maximum, there will be an estimated 2.11% tax increase. This increase translates to a cost of approximately $53.91 per year to Berks County residents and $67.79 per year to Montgomery County residents. The final funding option presented to the Committee was a 4.4% millage increase, which is an exception that the District is allowed to take. With this option, there will be a 4.55% tax increase, which will cost Berks County residents approximately $116.25 per year and Montgomery County residents $146.18 per year.

“We could decide, as a Board, to go somewhere between [0% millage increase and 4.4% millage increase] before final budget adoption in June,” commented Quinque.