Understanding the Challenges Ahead
In spite of local tax increases and additional state funding, we remain an economically strapped urban school district. The straightforward problem is that revenues are not keeping pace with expenses.
We have three primary sources of revenue: Federal Grants, Local Taxes, and State Funding. Federal Grant monies have declined over the past few years with 2014 seeing the end of a major grant and the effects of Federal Sequestration. Local Revenue has increased because of tax increases, not because of growing property values. State Revenue has increased, primarily because our area legislators negotiated additional funds these last few years to reduce our shortfall.
Our most significant expenses are personnel, operations and charter schools. In spite of personnel costs absorbing most of the budget, our per pupil personnel expenses have never been excessive when compared with other districts in our state. Allentown is among the bottom 10% in spending per student on administrative staff. Our operations costs rank low, and our instructional costs, which include teachers, is average. Our personnel retirement costs is the fastest growing expense we face. This fund is controlled at the state level and not by our School Board. Our operations costs have declined for the past few years, but increased recently, because of major building repairs that could not go undone.
Even considering these challenges, we have implemented a strategic plan to emerge from this difficult economic circumstance that includes:
To keep our community informed about the District's budget process, we have developed a Budget Portal on our website (allentownsd.org). Visit the portal for recaps of Finance Committee and Board meetings, video messages, supporting materials and articles featuring how other school districts face the same challenges. The portal is being updated as the FY-15 Budget Process unfolds. This year, we will hold Town Hall Meetings that are designed to inform the community about the budget. These meetings are being held throughout the community for everyone’s convenience. I hope you’ll attend the Town Hall Meeting in your community:
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