• School Board approves preliminary budget for 2024-25

    Lower Dauphin’s School Board approved the proposed budget for the 2024-25 school year at its Monday, May 6, meeting, but they held off on making a decision on raising taxes until a later date. 

    The proposed $80,280,000 spending plan, adopted with an 8-1 vote, will have a shortfall in revenue of nearly $6,948,683. If all of the projected shortfall is covered using the district’s reserves, the district will be left with $5.4 million in its fund reserves. Superintendent Robert Gildea talked about the district’s habit of spending down its reserves by budgeting with a known deficit every year. With a projected deficit of $2,927,838 for the 2023-24 school year added to the previous three years, the district will have spent $6,937,012 from its reserves since 2019-2020. That type of budgeting is not sustainable over the long-term, he said. 

    Additionally, he pointed out, since the 2007-08 school year the district has only increased taxes twice, despite the cost of living increasing 50 percent in that period. 

    The proposed budget reflects a decrease of $1.8 million from a version the board saw at its April 15 meeting. The majority of those cuts came from the facilities budget with $1.2 million earmarked for a new boiler at East Hanover Elementary School and $350,000 for units to dehumidify the air in the HVAC systems. 

    Dr. Gildea told the board it wasn’t easy to make the decision to cut those, and other projects, but the administration felt they could wait another year given the circumstances in this year’s budget.

    He also talked about how the district found itself with a decrease in total revenue of $3,878,683 in the proposed budget. First, the $5.4 million in planned spending from reserves was removed from the revenue to provide a true picture of the district’s cash flow. Then, the district is looking at federal revenue decreasing by $2.3 million. But there were some positives, he said. For example, revenue was projected to grow with $1.5 million in new property taxes from new construction and a projected increase in state revenue of nearly $1.2 million. 

    Additionally, Dr. Gildea said there was bad news in several expenditure categories. He pointed to $1.2 million in new expenditures approved last summer after the 2023-24 budget was adopted; over $1 million in expenditures which had been paid with federal and state COVID relief funds which no longer exist; $1 million in increased medical bills for the district; and $500,000 in additional retirement payments.

    The board of school directors will meet again Monday, May 20, at 7 p.m. at Lower Dauphin Middle School and is expected to adopt a final budget at its meeting Monday, June 10, at 7 p.m. at the District Administrative Center.

    Superintendent's Presentation - 2024-25 Proposed Budget

    PDE 2028 Budget Form