Keep Our Programs, Residents Tell Easton Board
Easton Area School Board considering budget that could cut jobs, programs.
"I was new to Easton and did not know a lot about how school systems worked," Noel told the Easton Area School Board Tuesday night.
Over the years, she and her family have relied on an educational program called Family Connection, which is based out of Cheston, and is one of the programs that could be cut under the school district's proposed 2012-2013 budget.
Noel was one of a series of people addressing the board Tuesday night on behalf of Family Connection -- which often works with some of the district's poorer children -- and other programs.
Which programs -- and jobs -- get cut will depend on which course the board takes. If the board raises taxes by 2.2 percent, it could mean the loss off 77 jobs; a budget with no tax increase would necessitate more job cuts, as many as 108, according to figures presented last week.
A poll on our site showed readers divided on the cuts, with about half supporting a tax increase.
Michael Phillips, a parent from Palmer Township who teaches in New Jersey, chastised the district for years of "horrific financial mismanagement," and said the district should look to earn income through advertising, the way other local districts have.
He also suggested the district scrap its contract with Apple, noting that "Everybody has computers at home."
Phillips said the tax increase would only come out to about $88 a year, or $7.37 a month. "That's less than a pizza," he said.
Another resident, Curtis Ding, told the board a tax increase now would actually help the district in the long term; he even said he'd be willing to pay more than the 2.2 percent.
If Easton is willing to spend money to maintain educational standards now, people will invest in the district, he argued.
"And now people don't want to move into this area because the school district has been stripped," said Ding, whose wife teaches at Easton Area High School.
Board President Robert Fehnel said the district is bound by state law to stay at 2.2 percent or below.
And Board Member Frank Pintabone said that paying extra money on tax bills may not be that easy for everyone in the district.
He recalled testimony from earlier in the evening about young girls going without breakfast.
"I can assure you they didn't skip breakfast because they were putting their make-up on," Pintabone said. "The reality is, there are people struggling here."
The board is expected to vote on a preliminary budget. next Tuesday at 6 p.m. at Easton Area High School.
The district's bus drivers' union says it will provide free busing for residents who want to attend the meeting.