Even though we are a little more than halfway through the 2018-2019 school year, plans are already underway for the 2019-2020 school year, and that includes the budgeting process.
We have been extremely fortunate to have been able to hold the line on taxes the past three years, passing a budget that did not include a millage increase. We credit that to the hard work of our Superintendent and Administrative Team to closely look at every expenditure to make sure that what we have budgeted is essential to run a District the size and scope of Bethel Park.
By the time this message reaches you, we will have passed a Proposed Preliminary Budget in January as required by law. That budget is nowhere near a finished product, but it does allow the District to then apply to the State for budgetary exceptions, which would then allow the District to increase taxes above the State-determined Index. While Bethel Park has always applied for the exceptions, we are pleased that we have never used the exceptions when finalizing the budget to increase the millage rate.
The District considers the Proposed Preliminary Budget, as well as the Preliminary Budget that will be passed in April, as working documents that will continue to be refined until the Final Budget for 2019-2020 is passed in May.
Our goal for 2019-2020 is the same as it has always been: to craft a budget that provides a high-quality, effective and child-centered education to every student, enabling them to achieve at their highest potential, and minimizing the impact to our taxpayers. Our intent is to always pass a zero-millage increase budget and that is our intention again for 2019-2020.
Some of the challenges we face each year when budgeting is to determine how to balance the increasing costs of items such as salaries, health care and pensions, while maintaining the programs and services that our families expect at a high level.
Add to that the necessity to provide for safe and secure schools, which includes measures to protect our students and staff, such as continuous crisis planning, a strong safety infrastructure, capable security personnel, and mental and behavioral health supports.
As School Directors, we accept the responsibility for governing the local school system by establishing an environment that provides all children full access to educational opportunities, regardless of their social, ethnic, language, economic, gender or special needs. It is our responsibility to balance educational practices, available resources and public input to provide a quality educational program for which our community can take great pride and it’s a responsibility that we take seriously.
The Board thanks the community for its input and support.