The Nazareth Blue Eagle marching band was recognized by the Nazareth School Board for their championship performance at the 2021 Cavalcade of Bands in Hershey. Cavalcade of Bands is a nonprofit organization of over 100 member schools engaging in interscholastic band competitions. The band director, Rick Hilborn, spoke for a few minutes about the band’s achievements.
“I would love to thank and acknowledge everyone, but I’m sure I would forget people. The greatest thank you goes to the kids that put in countless hours,” Hilborn said.
Student representatives from the band said that they wanted to wish Hilborn the best as he represents Nazareth at the Rose Bowl Parade next month, marching with the snare drum.
Lauren Tauber, a member of student government, updated the board on their successful hot chocolate sale, extended gratitude for their drive to collect goods for the Veterans of Foreign Wars hospital in Coatesville and said the student government is planning a Nazareth High School Day in April with more information to come.
Stuart Whiteleather, the business administrator from the office of the superintendent, then gave a detailed PowerPoint presentation on preliminary budget planning. One of their main priorities was keeping taxes as low as possible, according to Whiteleather. The Act 1 Index, which is the Pennsylvania Department of Education’s metric for annual tax increases, capped increases at four percent for the next fiscal year.
“We have always achieved an increase under the index,” Whiteleather said.
He noted that they always apply for grants to help the district cover PSER (teacher’s pensions) and special education, which are some of the biggest expenses.
Because of the pandemic the district tried to take proactive steps to cover possible shortfalls from a decrease in earned income and real estate tax revenue. However, it turned out that tax revenue was not impacted as much as expected. One of the increases in expenses this fiscal year was tuition for students who left Nazareth for charter schools. As of last September, 193 students were enrolled in charter schools totaling $1 million out of the budget.
To close the gap in the budget for the next fiscal year, Whiteleather said the tax increase for residents would be 1.9 percent, which comes to 1.08 mills or $78.30 a year.
“We want to continue working and get a better number,” he said.
The proposed budget and then finalized budget will be presented to the board in either May or June of next year.
Nazareth Superintendent Dr. Dennis Riker thanked the board members for their work during an extremely difficult year.
“Thank you for allowing our parents to make the decision with students getting vaccinated or not. Thank you for not making [Covid] testing mandatory. I would hope that if the person you love the most in life is in the hospital or immunocompromised you would make the choice not to come here. If you are sick, I hope you make the choice to stay home. Choice is very important, and family should always come first,” Riker said.
The superintendent also asked the board to approve a program “Sleighride to Mayfield” to help send aid from Nazareth to a community in Kentucky devastated by a tornado last week.
The next Nazareth School Board meeting will be on January 11 at 7 p.m.