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East Penn Superintendent and Treasurer present flawed budget…

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But it still passed 8-1.

You read right, even though the school district has two policies stating the budget have at least 5% of the total budget as a reserve, that would be $7,000,000 in a $141 million dollar budget for this coming year, the administration presented a budget that was short of the required reserve funds, and 8 members of the board voted to support it anyway. Only one board member, Ms. Donches, voted against this budget.

The same board members who approved this budget, also voted to allow Superintendent Schilder to cut 10% of his principles budgets. This 10% directly funds items relating to student education and safety. Again only one board member, Ms. Donches, voted against these cuts to the children’s education. However, one area that will receive no cuts are raises and benefits for district employees. In fact, the same 8 board members managed to sneak in an early bird contract locking in those raises.

bacher photo

Ms. Donches presented arguments about not being satisfied with the budget because it makes cuts to education programs that directly effect the children in the district. After Ms. Donches spoke, fellow board member Mr. Bacher criticized Ms. Donches by saying she doesn’t know what she is talking about and she is making these statements about the cuts for political reasons. Note, Ms. Donches is not running for reelection, however Mr. Bacher is. After his quick criticisms, Mr. Bacher then presents an argument in support of what Ms. Donches was saying. Enforcing the points of why no board member should vote for this budget due to all the cuts to the student programs, but then amazingly he votes “Yes” to the budget, accepting the cuts and stating he knows why the administration did it. Mr. Bacher never shares why he believes the administration made these drastic cuts to the student programs, leaving the public to ask, “Who’s making a political statement?”

 

Munson photo

The next board member to comment against Ms. Donches was professor Munson. Dr. Munson gave even more compelling descriptions to the drastic cuts to the student programs and safety that Superintendent Schilder is making. Dr. Munson even went so far as to call the cuts troubling. However, after listing all the “troubling” cuts including what he called “the incremental chipping away at some of our programs” Dr. Munson also voted to uphold the cuts.

 

Oddly, the board doesn’t seem to care about violating their own policies dealing with the budgetary reserve. This is baffling because the sitting president, Mr. Earnshaw and former President, Mr. Ballard, emphatically stated in the past having at least a 5% budgetary reserve is critical to assure a good bond rating and if we don’t have a good bond rating we will have to pay a higher interest rate to float bonds.

So, is it critical or not and why do we have policies if we ignore them?

The two EPSD board policies are listed below:

Financial Policy 604 Budgetary Reserve states: The East Penn Board of School Directors directs the Director of Business and Fiscal Affairs to include a budgetary reserve account appropriation equal to 5% of the annual total budget appropriations during the budget development process.

Financial Policy 620 Fund Balance states: For each school year, the administration should present a budget proposal that includes at least five percent (5%) of the total projected expenditures being maintained as either unassigned in the general fund budgeted ending fund balance and/or included as budgetary reserve.

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