Archive for category bethlehem area school board

Bethlehem charter school to get 5 more years with enrollment cap

Lehigh Valley Dual Language Charter School has agreed to limit the number of Bethlehem Area School District students it enrolls.

The Bethlehem Area School District plans to …

5 things to know from Monday’s Bethlehem school board meeting

It was a fast, but busy meeting.

Monday night’s Bethlehem Area School Board regular monthly meeting was quick, but the board tackled a lot of things.
Here’s a run down on wh…

Bethlehem school board backs lowest average tax hike in years

But Lehigh County residents will feel a lot more pain due to a state calculation change.

Bethlehem Area School District tax bills will rise 1.24 percent on average,&nbs…

Bethlehem schools’ lowest tax hike in years still has pain

A change in a state calculation means higher taxes for the district’s Lehigh County residents.

While the Bethlehem Area School Board is proposing one of its smallest tax hikes in recent years, the news isn’t good for taxpayers in the Lehigh County section of the district. 

On Monday night, the board voted 7-1 to approve a $268.4 million proposed final budget that would increase taxes by 2.31 percent on average. Director Tom Thomasik voted against the plan and Director Shannon L. Patrick was absent due to a personal emergency.

But the average is a bit misleading as Lehigh County taxpayers will see a much larger tax hike due to a change in a state calculation. 

“That is not due to any actions of the school district,” Superintendent Joseph Roy said.

The median Northampton County homeowner’s tax bill would rise by $72 under the proposal. In neighboring Lehigh County, the median bill would rise by almost $154.

The proposed tax increase is below the district’s Act 1 Index of 3.1 percent and lower than the 2.95 percent hike in the spending plan floated last month.

  Northampon Lehigh BASD average
Proposed budget tax impact 2.20% 2.82% 2.31%
Multi-county rebalancing impact 0 3.57%  
Overall proposed tax change 2.20% 6.39%  

Roy said the administration further scaled back the budget since Lehigh County homeowners were seeing such a larger increase.

Because the district spans two counties, it needs the state to determine each county’s share of the tax burden to set its annual tax millage rate. That is done by coming up with common level ratios of assessed value to market value.

This year, the State Equalization Tax Board stopped counting the Sands Casino Resort Bethlehem and other properties lying within a South Bethlehem tax incremental financing district as part of Northampton’s market value.

The board argued the new market values of the TIF properties had been improperly included for the past 15 years. The district argued that Bethlehem’s TIF is unique because the district does get some of the new money the properties generate.

In the end, the state agreed to count a portion of the properties, but it still resulted in a major shit of the tax burden to Lehigh County.

How an accounting error could have spiked your school tax bills

The budget continues to push the district’s major educational initiative such as reading on grade level by third grade while controlling spending, Roy said. He noted many worthwhile initiatives didn’t make it into the budget because of cost concerns.

The district began the budget process with a $12.56 million deficit, which has been closed by tapping $4 million from its savings and cutting spending. The budget cuts include six teaching positions, two guidance counselors and four instructional aides through attrition. It also reduces social workers the district hires as contractors in the two high schools.

Director Dean Donaher said Bethlehem wouldn’t have had to raise taxes the last five years if it wasn’t funding skyrocketing pension and charter school costs. He said he’s not anti-charter but wants a level playing field, like cyber charter tuition reimbursement at actual cost.

Donaher urged state lawmakers to tackle those issues and take a strong look at properly funding public education at the state level.

“Kids are getting the education they need because the local taxpayer picks up the tab year after year,” said Michael Faccinetto, school board president.

Sara K. Satullo may be reached at ssatullo@lehighvalleylive.com. Follow her on Twitter @sarasatullo and Facebook. Find lehighvalleylive.com on Facebook.

 

How much your Bethlehem school tax bill jumps will depend on where you live

The district is committed to staying under a 3.1 percent tax hike.

Tax bills are going up in the Bethlehem Area School District, but by how much depends on which county you live …

Can random breath tests stop teens from drinking?

The Bethlehem Area School District wants to test students ahead of dances.

Soon, Bethlehem Area School District teens may have to randomly submit to a breath-alcohol test be…

Bethlehem school board leaves all tax hike options open

The board passed its preliminary 2017-18 budget in a 7-1 vote.

The Bethlehem Area school board Monday night voted to keep all options on the table to help it close a $12.5 m…

Why Bethlehem students are now regulars on RCN

BASD District Insider premiered Thursday, Feb 2., at 6 p.m. on RCN channel 4/1004 and will air again at 6 p.m. Sunday.

Bethlehem Area School District students are hosting…

Bethlehem schools moving on $3M East Hills project

The school district got the nod to start designing the projects and then seek bids.

The Bethlehem Area School Board voted Monday night for the district to design and se…

Outrage over charter school ad that portrays Liberty High kids as druggies

Innovative Arts Academy Charter School denies it has anything to do with a promotional mailer that degrades Liberty High.

A promotional mailer claiming to be from a new Catasauqu…