On January 30, 2013, the Upper Darby School District (UDSD) presented its Preliminary Budget for the 2013-2014 school year. Ed Smith, the UDSD Director of Business Management, detailed the District’s estimated budget shortfall for the upcoming school year.

Making Revenue Equal Expenditures
The Preliminary Budget details the expected revenues and expenditures for the 2013-2014 school year. Revenue is the anticipated amount of Local, State, and Federal funding that our District will receive. State and Federal revenue is expected to remain constant for the upcoming school year. For the proposal, in the area of expenditures, the District presumed that the current basic education program would be offered next year. Increases to State- and Federal-mandated teacher pension costs, special education costs, and charter school costs account for the significant overall increase to expenditures.

The Preliminary Budget is posted on the District website (www.upperdarbysd.org), under the Business Office heading. By law, the School Board must adopt a balanced Preliminary Budget in February, so the District must propose a way to close the shortfall between the anticipated revenue and expenditures. The School Board will vote to adopt the Preliminary Budget at the February 12th School Board meeting.  The Preliminary Budget is the first of several steps toward developing the Final Budget, which may include revisions to anticipated expenditures and/or revenue. The law requires the School Board to adopt a Final Budget by June 30, annually. The timeline for the entire budget process is detailed on the State’s website (www.state.pa.us).

The 2013-2014 Bottom Line
At this time, the shortfall between expenditures and revenue is projected to be $9,677,469. In the Preliminary Budget, the District proposes to close that gap by using some of the District’s Fund Balance ($2.5 million). The remaining $7.2 million shortfall would be closed by increasing property taxes 8.7 percent (an increase to 2.86 mills, or $23.83 per month on a home assessed at $100,000). Smith said that the School Board knows the taxpayers cannot afford a tax increase of this magnitude.

What Can Citizens Do?

Visit the Contacts page of this website and call all of your Local, State and Federal representatives. Let them know you expect them to work on fixing the funding formulas for special education and charter schools, and that you need their help in providing relief from the underfunded pension program.

In a few weeks:
As part of this year’s budget decision-making process, the District has partnered with the Penn Project for Civic Engagement (PPCE) to give everyone in the community – parents, students, teachers, and taxpayers – an opportunity to discuss what Upper Darby citizens value most about our public education programs, as well as understand more about the budget challenges our community faces.  The PPCE has set up four discussion forums over a two-week period in late February and early March. Each two-hour forum will be led by PPCE facilitators. All community members are encouraged to attend at least one of the forums. For more details, read below.

Press Release from the Penn Project for Civic Engagement:
Tight Times, Tough Choices: Community Input into the District Budget

Residents of Upper Darby School District are invited to participate in workshops about how to close an anticipated gap in the 2013-2014 school district budget. These workshops offer a chance to learn more about the District budget, work through different ways of balancing the District budget, identify tensions and trade-offs in the budgeting process and develop ways to address those tensions and trade-offs. The results of these forums will include residents’ priorities, a sense of the trade-offs among them and a set of values-based principles to help guide decision-making. The School Board/Administration has agreed to respond to the community by reporting how they used the forums in their decision-making.

Schedule of Community Budget Forums
Registration starts 30 minutes before each Forum. All residents of Upper Darby Township are encouraged to attend one or more of the Penn Project for Civic Engagement’s Community Forums.

Wednesday, Feb. 27
10 a.m. – 12 p.m.
Watkins Senior Center
326 Watkins Avenue
Upper Darby, PA 19082

Tuesday, Mar. 5
7 p.m. – 9:30 p.m.
Beverly Hills Middle School
1400 Garrett Road
Upper Darby, PA 19082

Sunday, Mar. 10
3 p.m. – 5:30 p.m.
Drexel Hill Middle School
3001 State Road
Drexel Hill, PA 19026

Monday, Mar. 11
7 p.m. – 9:30 p.m.
Westbrook Park Elementary School
199 Westbrook Drive
Clifton Heights, PA 19018

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