BASD: Board passes budget that Iincludes 5 % tax increase
The Bethlehem Area School District board passed the budget during the June 16 meeting with a 6-3 vote.
School directors Basilio Bonilla Jr. and Eugene McKeon both voted against the budget with Rogelio Ortiz. Bonilla and McKeon both made statements that their vote against the budget was not about naming lacrosse as a school sport.
"I just want to say that my vote was not a vote against the lacrosse program being added. I think lacrosse is a great program. My vote was against the budget because I can't approve a 5 percent [tax] increase on seniors at this time," said Bonilla.
The budget total for the 2014-15 school year is $242.5 million.
In order to reach the budget the district applied to the state to change some programs while cutting others.
"This was not an easy budget by any means. This was just to keep what we had, and even keeping what we had, we cut millions," said Board President Michael Facinetto.
Facinetto and BASD Superintendent Dr. Joseph Roy also wrote a letter explaining some of the expenses the board has while creating a budget and that some of the bigger expenses that drove up the budget for the upcoming school year are out of the districts control. The letter will be mailed with residents' the tax bills.
In the letter, Facinetto and Roy talk about the effects of having to pay for charter schools and increasing pension costs. They said that without the state mandate to pay charter school tuition, there would be no increase in BASD property taxes this year.
In other news the board heard an update on the Nitschmann MS project and went over a resolution urging the state general assembly to establish a new funding formula for basic education. The board personalized the resolution by including some information about the district. Roy also went over changes he would like to make to the IT department to update it and help it better serve the district's technology needs.