Generic real estate tax; property tax

ALLENTOWN, Pa. – There was no discussion on the Allentown School District's 2021-22 proposed budget during Thursday night's Finance Committee of the Whole meeting, held at Trexler Middle School and virtually.

Director Charles Thiel blamed the delay on the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.

"Given the fact that the state has not released their budget yet, we decided not to address it this evening," said Thiel. "There are a lot of variables coming in from the state that are going to affect decisions and deliberations that we as a body would make."

He added, "In order to do that in a more intelligent and effective manner, we're going to give it some time and look at it again next week and give the state some time to release information."

On May 27, directors passed the 2021-22 proposed budget. The $365 million spending plan includes a 4.6% tax hike. The rate is the highest percentage permitted under the Act 1 Index allowed by the Pennsylvania Department of Education without voter referendum.

The district is required to pass a final budget by June 30.

Student learning and technology purchases

In other news, the board advanced various purchases related to student learning and technology.

One such motion involved the purchase of 75 Chromebooks for Hiram W. Dodd Elementary and 129 Chromebooks for Building 21 at the cost of $25,745 and $44,879, respectively. The district said the purchase will support the increased need for devices for students at both schools.

Another purchase included Carbon Lehigh Intermediate Unit 21's offer to provide ASD the complete Discovery Education Streaming Experience digital library for the 2021-22 school year. The online platform includes education materials in science, math, English, social studies, health and STEM. The cost to the district will be $25,080.

Directors also OK'd advancing the renewal of the Discovery Education Science and Social Studies digital technology book series. The contract, if approved later this month at the regular board meeting, would be for all teachers in grades six through 12 for the next three years at a total cost of $189,000.

Directors additionally forwarded an agreement with Community Services for Children's Head Start Lehigh Valley to provide space for the delivery of early childhood education services at Jackson Early Childhood Center and K-6 Newcomer Academy for up to 37 children and their families. The time period would cover Aug. 1, 2021 through July 31, 2022.

ASD maintains the collaboration with Head Start helps their work on personalized learning and instruction to meet objectives of increasing pre-kindergarten exposure and increasing kindergarten readiness. They added the pact helps ASD families and their children "with a supportive transition from a Head Start classroom to an ASD classroom," according to Lucretia Brown, the district's deputy superintendent.

Finally, the board advanced a deal to engage Voyager Sopris Learning as the district's facilitator of professional development for elementary administrators as well as kindergarten through third grade teachers through its "Language Essentials for Teachers of Reading and Spelling." ASD maintains "LETRS is a research-based, scientific approach to reading instruction that focuses on the fundamentals of literacy." The cost for the training is $487,692.

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