Boyertown Education Center

The Boyertown Area School District's Education Center in Colebrookdale. 

COLEBROOKDALE — The Boyertown Area School Board voted 7-2 Tuesday night to adopt a $124.9 million school budget that raises taxes by 3.2 percent — the maximum allowed by the state's Act 1 index.

The millage will be raised to 28.2 mills as a result of the vote.

School board members Ruth Dierolf and Christine Neiman cast the two no votes against the budget.

Both said they appreciated all the hard work that went into crafting the budget, but that they have heard from too many constituents that they can't afford the tax hike.

"Some have lost their businesses or haven't gone back to work yet and they can't pay their bills," Neiman said.

Board member Jill Dennin, who heads the finance committee, said when the budget process began, "we thought we had things under control and then the pandemic hit."

School districts across Pennsylvania have suffered staggering revenue losses due to decreased revenues from local sources, due to the shutdown of businesses ordered by Gov. Tom Wolf.

"It's been a really, really challenging time and it's really painful to be looking for more from our district families," Dennin said.

Board member Brian Hemingway said he shares the community concerns that come with a tax increase, "but the education of our students is our main priority."

He added, "I think this is the best balance we will find for our students and our community."

"When we started this budget process, things looked pretty good," said school board President Brandon Foose.

But with the pandemic "there are still a whole lot of unknowns going into the next year," Foose said. "It's extremely difficult to be asking more of anybody."

The one thing no one on the board had difficulty doing was thanking Carol Pitts, the district's chief financial officer, for the work done by her and her team to put the budget together.

Pitts is retiring at the end of the school year to spend time with her families and indulge in her two hobbies — scuba diving and riding roller coasters.

This article first appeared as a post in The Digital Notebook blog.

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