During the Northampton School Board meeting on March 14, Executive Director of the Colonial Intermediate Unit 20 (CIU 20), Dr. Christopher Wolfel, presented the intermediate unit’s budget for the upcoming school year. 

Wolfel stated that the CIU 20 provides educational, administrative, and technology services to over 86,000 students in 13 school districts in the area. 

“The mission at CIU 20 is to develop positive relationships that support student growth, responsiveness to stakeholders’ crucial needs, and demonstrate results through services and programs for students.” 

Seventy six percent of the CIU 20 funding comes from local sources, 12.3% comes from state monies, and 11.6% comes from federal sources.

Following, Wolfel presented the IU’s General Operating Budget (GOB) to the school board since it requires local school district support and approval. When broken down, the GOB comprises 1.4% of the IU’s revenue and is the base budget that supports the administrative services needed to operate the IU.

At this time, the Executive Director stated that the recommended GOB for the 2022-2023 school year is $3,835,200. The overall budget increase is 2.3% or $84,650, but the increase to the school district withholding is 0%. As a result, the $43,894.88 GOB contribution from Northampton Area School District (NASD) will remain the same as the 2021-2022 school year budget.

According to Wolfel’s 2021-2022 projected costs, NASD’s special education programs and services add up to a total of $2,985,772, and district’s behavioral health services and other programs add up to $855,027, with a combined total of $3,840,799. This projection combines the current 462 NASD students that are currently being served and estimates the costs as approximately $8,313.42 per student, since some students receive multiple services. 

Questions were raised by board members regarding how the pandemic affected the IU’s staffing and how students’ needs have increased since the pandemic began. 

Wolfel stated that due to the pandemic, they have been understaffed. He reassured the board that CIU 20 is aggressively hiring and finding creative solutions. However, until they’re fully staffed, they are unable to open any new programs because they need to take care of the kids that are currently in their programs before they can accept new students.

Coming out of the pandemic, services have increased due to the population of students that need help increasing. Wolfel explained that schools are reporting higher levels of help needed and programs like their partial hospitalization program are full or almost full.

Lastly, Wolfel stated that the IU’s continued effort will provide and enhance a safe, respectful, inclusionary, and supportive school climate. 

Further information about Colonial Intermediate Unit 20 and their previous budgets can be found at CIU20.org. Additional information on how to contact Dr. Christopher Wolfel and other staff can also be found on the site.


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