Please take a look at the Proposed Final Budget

Please take a look at the Proposed Final Budget
Posted on 04/25/2022

Good evening!  


I wanted to share with you a couple things as we get into the last week of April.  


On Thursday night, the Administration will be presenting to QCSD’s Finance Committee its recommendation for the Proposed Final Budget for Academic Year 2022-23.  As a quick summary, the Administration's recommendation calls for a 4 percent tax increase and follows through on the Board’s previous decisions and commitments made over the past nine months.  No school district structural changes, such as moving students from the 6th Grade Center to Strayer MS, are included in the Administration’s recommended Proposed FInal Budget.  Later Thursday, during its regularly scheduled meeting, the School Board is expected to approve the Proposed Final Budget. Approval of the Final Budget is scheduled for June 9th. Therefore, the Board and I look forward to your feedback ([email protected]) as nothing is yet set in stone!   A lot can happen both financially and with Board decisions between now and June 9th.


I spend a good bit of my time looking at trends and disrupting influences that directly affect our work, student performance, and programs in Quakertown.  One national trend that has played out in our local schools is the declining birthrate in America brought on by the Great Recession of 2008.  It was exacerbated even further here locally by the pandemic.  Another is the ever increasing trend of student college debt that is now more than $1.6 trillion.


Today, across Pennsylvania, our state schools of higher education and community colleges are experiencing a serious decline in admission applications and enrollment.  As a result, many state universities are downsizing, consolidating, and doing their best to cut operating costs.  Over the past two years, because of COVID, many colleges and universities removed the requirement for applicants to submit SAT or ACT scores, while at the same time raising the bar on accepting Advanced Placement exam scores.  This may be done to bring in more tuition money, not to lower their expectations.  To make the situation even more complex to understand, many businesses are looking for job skills versus a college diploma.  As a public education organization with our primary focus to make students both college and career ready, our work is cut out for us.   


The disruption caused by the pandemic is being seen in course selection decisions by our high school students for next year.  I previously shared with you the dramatic increase in 9th grade students requesting a seat in one of the many programs at Upper Bucks County Technical School.  It has doubled to more than 50 percent of the incoming high school 9th grade class. It’s interesting that at QCHS nearly 25 percent of each of the rising 9th and 10th grade classes have signed up for at least one AP course.  The participation rate is even better than pre-COVID course selection numbers.  However, for course selection for our rising juniors and seniors in our most rigorous courses - AP and Honors - the numbers are dramatically down.  

Student participation in two of our performing arts programs, disrupted by the pandemic, are making strides to bounce back.  For a myriad of reasons caused by the pandemic, student participation in band dropped dramatically at all three building levels.  It also slowed down the rollout of the strings program which began during the 2017-18 school year.  Fast forward to today, with a lot of hard work and rigorous recruitment effort by both band and strings teachers, the participation rate for band at the elementary level is nearly back to pre-COVID numbers, while the strings program is much getting stronger.  Nearly 400 of our elementary students are playing an instrument.  The pandemic had its greatest impact on band participation at the middle and high school levels where the recovery in student participation in band is much slower.  QCSD is not alone in this situation. Other districts are experiencing the same decreases in student participation.


The band and chorale music programs at the high school continue to be our “crown jewels.”  Recently, the Jazz Band reached the finals of the Steelstacks High School Jazz Band Showcase; three singers qualified for the PMEA Choir (congratulations Brooklyn Spear, Simon Fletcher, and Zack Polek); the high school Choir toured D.C.; and we watched a wonderful Orchestra Showcase. This year, two of our art students have been honored for their talented works. Thien Cao received a prestigious Silver Key in the Scholastic Art & Writing Awards Contest and Caleb Einolf’s vector art was chosen for the Baum exhibition. On May 20-22, the musical Music Man will be performed. And the QCSD Art Show will take place May 21.


Thank you for reading.  Again, please share with the Board and me any thoughts that you may have on the Proposed Final Budget and anything else that you may have feedback on.


Bill Harner

Superintendent


[email protected]

@BillHarner


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