AGSD Board holds budget hearings; taxes likely to increase due to reduced revenue

WEST GROVE — On Tuesday, May 12, Avon Grove School District’s (AGSD) Board of School Directors and administration held its fifth Committee of the Whole (COW) Budget Work Session for the 2020-2021 school year. A major topic of discussion pertained to revenues, which remain uncertain as the district prepares its 2020-2021 budget. The administration is scaling back revenue projections to be consistent with trends in collected revenues during the Great Recession (fiscal years of 2009 through 2011). The district’s main source of revenue comes from local sources, primarily local property taxes. In addition to local revenues, the district also receives revenue from the state and federal governments.

For the 2020-2021 school year, the administration has reduced costs; but overall, projected expenses are increasing. However, the increase is at a minimal rate of about half a percent. The current budget plan includes an Act 1 increase of 3.5%. This is required for several reasons, most notably due to uncertainty for what will be required to support the learning environment post COVID-19. This level of Act 1 increase would mitigate the district’s need to dip further into its cash reserves in support of general school district operations and would protect the district against possible reductions to programs and staff.

While the COVID-19 pandemic and extended school closure have presented many challenges for the entire AGSD community, the pandemic and its effects have made the district’s planning for the 2020-2021 school year especially difficult. While the district has been closed for normal operations, Act 13 legislation passed by the Pennsylvania General Assembly in late March required school districts to maintain payrolls and certain district operations so that education could continue for students.

The biggest task during the closure was to transform learning environments from face to face to online. This required AGSD to encounter many unforeseen expenses in the area of technology and operations. Because of this, AGSD is not recognizing a surplus of revenue as a result of the COVID-19 extended school closure this year. Additional expenditures with anticipated loss in revenue have negated any savings that districts may have accrued due to the closure.

For example, since mid-March, the District has supplied Chromebooks to 583 students, internet hotspots to 63 students with an additional 53 hotspot units being delivered to students next week. To date, our food services division has prepared and distributed approximately 45,000 meals to our community. This is just a sample of the countless hours that have been put in by our administration, teachers and support staff to ensure that our students remain engaged in the learning process for the remainder of this school year.

The administration will continue to evaluate expenses until its final 2020-2021 budget is approved. AGSD’s business office has been recognized by the Association of School Business Officials International (ASBO) for excellence in budget preparations and has received the Meritorious Budget Award (MBA) for the 2018-2019 and 2019-2020 budget years.

The May 26 Virtual COW Budget Work Session is open to the public. The 2020-2021 school year budget will be finalized in June, with anticipated approval at the School Board meeting on June 4. Additional information is available on the Board of Directors page ( of the AGSD website, including video recordings of past meetings.

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