Brentwood Borough School District sets 2019-20 budget
Real estate taxes are going up in 2019-20 for residents living in the Brentwood Borough School District, as district leaders look to offset rising costs.
Board members on June 24, in an 8-0 vote, approved the district’s $24.6 million budget for 2019-20, that includes an increase in the tax rate of 1.0077 mills. This sets the tax rate for 2019-20 at 31.545 mills.
Board member Roger Gaughan was absent.
The median homeowner in Brentwood, with a home value of $83,650, will see an increase in real estate taxes of $85 a year. One mill in Brentwood schools, where the collection rate is about 92 percent, brings in $362,084.
Superintendent Amy Burch said the increase in real estate taxes was needed to offset rising contributions required of the district to the school employee retirement system, charter school tuition payments and increasing health insurance costs.
The budget also includes “additional leases for computers,” said Jennifer Pesanka, business manager.
“The district has been working on its technology plan to update our computers throughout the district,” she said. “We added a lease for laptops for the middle/high school teachers and a lease to begin in the Spring of 2020 for laptops for the 2020/21 class.”
The district plans to launch a 1:1 initiative at the high school in 2020-21, she said. That means one device per student. The district is ordering the devices in the spring, so staff can work behind the scenes to get the devices ready, she said.
The budget does not include cuts to programs or staffing, Pesanka said.
However, it does plan to utilize $1.48 million from its fund balance.
As of June 30, 2018, the district had roughly $5.15 million in its fund balance, Pesanka said. In 2018-19, the district budgeted to use $2.1 million from the fund balance. After taking the $1.48 million in 2019-20, the district will have an estimated $1.5 million in its fund balance.
Burch said a goal with this year’s budget was to reduce how much the district is tapping into its reserve.
“That’s a decrease from the year before. We were really looking to close the gap in our operating budget, that is our goal,” she said. “We’re taking baby steps to get there, but we’re looking at every line item to make sure that we’re getting the best deals, looking at various contracts, looking at various things to see: Are we getting everything out of the investment that we’re looking for?”
The district is in the process of launching a multi-phase construction project that ultimately will include borrowing $21 million over the next several years.
The goal is to keep debt payments the same with those projects, Burch said.