Property appeals bill a worry
Superintendent Dr. Joseph Roy addressed the school board and the members of the public Oct. 28 about SB 334, a controversial bill making its way through Harrisburg which would limit Pennsylvania school districts’ ability to appeal property assessments it believes are undervalued.
Roy explained that BASD policy is to appeal property assessments that the district believes are undertaxed by more than $10,000 per year. He gave several examples of properties whose assessments BASD successfully challenged last year, noting that underassessed properties result in tax increases on law-abiding residents or cuts to district programs. Because of the district’s $10,000 threshold for appeals, most of the properties that would benefit from SB 334 are multi-unit rental buildings or commercial properties – at the expense of average homeowners or district students, Roy contended.
Roy also noted the scheduled Nov. 1 launch of the district’s new website, thanking CTO Marie Bachman and her team.
Board members also reported on their committee work. Dr. Karen Beck Pooley noted NCC has renewed its focus on career readiness; 93 percent of NCC alumni who responded to a recent survey are either employed or attending a four-year institution, while Dr. Kim Shively said IU 20 and its educational support professionals agreed on a contract Oct. 23, and that the Colonial Academy campus is undergoing parking lot renovations to create a separate ingress and egress.
Reporting on the Foundation for BASD, board president Mike Faccinetto noted some recent EITC donations from Capital Blue Cross and other area employers. The foundation was also selected as the region’s third most popular charity (after Via and ArtsQuest) in a contest sponsored by Wind Creek, which donated $10,000 to each of the top three.
Ms. Angela Sinkler’s wellness committee report included a successful “catch-up” immunization clinic in September and an announcement of an upcoming flu shot “drive-through” at East Hills MS Nov. 16. Sinkler also noted that her committee is reviewing district policy #246, and encouraged residents to read the policy online and share their views with her. (All BASD policies are available at https://go.boarddocs.com/pa/beth/Board.nsf/Public on the “policies” tab.)
Two members of the public offered comment. Randy Plessor, an Allentown resident who is starting a dance team and drum line with a low participation fee through his nonprofit organization SlipStream Youth, shared his plans with the board. Plessor has participants from Raub and Trexler middle schools, and is seeking permission to recruit BASD students. He was told the bourd would have to get back to him.
A Governor Wolf parent voiced concerns about safety and security related to school bus drivers. She said she has seen rolling stops and buses cutting through church parking lots. Faccinetto responded to some of her concerns, noting all BASD employees, including bus drivers, are background-checked according to state law. He also noted that commercial driver’s license (CDL) holders are subject to additional scrutiny under Pa. law, and that BASD buses are equipped with GPS tracking devices from Zonar, monitoring their speed, travel path, and idling time. He encouraged any parent concerned about bus safety to file a complaint directly with the district transportation department.