Quakertown Community School District (QCSD) residents can breathe a sigh of relief as the school board unanimously approved a $92 million budget for next year which will raise taxes less than 1 percent.
The June 14 vote was vastly different than previous budget votes which were accompanied by hours of debating from board members and subsequent questions of whether to terminate positions, lay off staff, or close a school altogether.
Last year the district closed Haycock Elementary School and laid off 11 teachers.
On Thursday night there was no debate and all board members and some residents attending the meeting applauded the decision.
“I wanted a zero percent tax increase, but I’ve come to realize school budgets are handled differently, and I appreciate the administration’s hard work in crafting this budget,” said board member Zane Stauffer, as read from a prepared statement.
Five percent of the budget was financed by monies taken from an unassigned reserve account.
The 2012-13 tax increase of .9 percent will ultimately mean a $33 increase on median residents’ property tax bills, compared to $49 on the 2011-12 budget.
The increase will help maintain current programs and staffing as well as balance the budget for future endeavors. Funds in reserve will be used to complete work on the 13 schools in the district. The school board also agreed to conduct a district-wide paving survey which, when complete, will provide an outline of where paving is of top priority.
The board later announced they are one of the first school districts in the state to launch a mobile application for smart phones and iPad devices with iOS and Android markets to be available for parents, teachers and students.
Tom Murray, the district’s director of technology and cyber education, presented and demonstrated how the technology works and the benefits of using mobile technology in today’s world.
In a society filled with smart phones, iPads, and other mobile devices, QCSD felt the need to become more tech savvy by offering access to the district’s website and information while on the go 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, he said.
Murray explained that, “districts need to go mobile in order to stay in tune with parents.” It will also help teachers and students stay in touch with district news at all times.
After the application is downloaded to a device via iTunes or Android marketplace, there will be immediate access to an array of information regarding each school in the district. Parents and their children will be able to view grades, lunch menus, sporting event information as well as parent resources. Communication between students, teachers, and parents will also be available.
The application is presently available for teachers and will be released to parents and students by mid-July.