BASD-IU20 requests a funding increase
Two important proposals came before the BASD finance committee at the March 12 meeting. The first was a funding increase request in the budget presentation by Colonial Intermediate Unit 20. The CIU serves Bethlehem and numerous other districts in Northampton, Monroe and Pike counties, making it the eighth largest CIU in the state. The CIU is tasked with balancing 45 different budgets and dozens of services for each participating district.
BASD had 1,202 students using CIU services in the 2016-17 school year, and that number has increased to 1223 in the 2017-18 school year. These annual services cost the district an estimated $11,094,499 or roughly $9,000 per student.
CIU Executive Director Dr. Charlene Brennan said autistic support is the district’s fastest growing area of need. Although the dollar figures BASD spends on CIU services is staggering, it is important to note that all CIU services are pay per use. The district is liable only for those services that are used and only for the time the students are there.
Brennan reminded board members and the audience that CIU20 is dedicated to students, and showed the breakdown of how each and every dollar is spent to best serve them. The CIU forecasted an increased budget need for the 2018-19 school year totaling only $122,420.
The second major discussion point of the meeting was repairs to the Bethlehem shared football stadium. The project, originally planned as a repainting job, was put out to bid. After assessments by qualified professionals, it was determined that the stadium would require repainting, but the handrail system will require a full replacement. Only three bidders submitted packages, and a large difference in cost made the winning bidder obvious. Hannahoe d.b.a. Uhrig came in at $1.28 million, nearly half of the other two bids.
Members of the audience shared concerns about the qualifications of the winning bidder, particularly in light of the drastic cost differences. The district answered concerns by clarifying that all due diligence was completed prior to accepting the bid, and all qualifications were verified. It was determined that Uhrig was able to offer the best price because, as a general contractor, they have the staffing and skills to execute the painting work, as well as the handrail fabrication and installation, removing the need to subcontract portions of the work to other companies. Both the CIU budget and the stadium repair were voted on and approved at the March 19 school board meeting, with no further objections.