2020-21 Budget Information

All Dates are tentative and subject to change 
Note: Presentation Link will be active after the Board Meeting

November 20, 2019: Debt Service, Warehouse/Transportation, and Building Budgets


  • The Act 1 Index for Palisades School District for the 2019-2020 budget year is 2.6%. This is the maximum increase allowable for the District without seeking exceptions. This index is set by the Pennsylvania Department of Education.

  • There is a slight decrease in the Building Budgets for our schools even with a cost increase that we will pay for students who live in Palisades and attend an outside charter school. (NOTE:  Any Palisades student who attends an outside charter school is paid for with Palisades’ taxpayer money. The District pays $20,324 for a Non-special Education student and $46,677 for a Special Education student in the current year with rates projected to increase to $21,500 and $48,200 respectively.  Continual efforts are being made by our administrators and cyber teachers to contact families of students choosing outside charter schools to explore other options within our schools including our own cyber charter course offerings.)

  • The Transportation budget has increased $261,855 due to an increase in mid day bus runs for students with special needs, additional needs for aides to ride with special needs students, and charges for bus runs exceeding the base hourly allowance per run (4.5 hours per run).

December 4, 2019: Equipment, Administration, Building Maintenance, Capital Projects, and Other Education


  • The proposed equipment budget for the district includes updated technology and replacement furniture at the elementary level, medical equipment for schools and musical instruments.  The total of all equipment requests is $76,298

  • The administration budget included a budgetary increase of $22,825 or 3.8% mainly due to an accounting change required for annual student scholarships that includes an equal offset of revenue so there is no effect on any potential tax increase.

  • An increase in Capital Projects is due to the planned renovation of the High School Science wing. Additional projects include: PALMS parking lot resurfacing, Teacher laptop replacement, several facility upgrades, and safety and security upgrades. All Capital Project money is paid for from fund balance (district savings account) and do not add to the taxpayers’ property tax bill.

  • Special and Other Education increased by $223,000 based on the increased expected needs of our students in 2020-2021.

December 18, 2019: Educational Support, Comprehensive Plan, Salary, Benefits, and Revenue

  • Technology requests in the 2020-2021 budget include Chromebooks for our elementary students for replacement of those Chromebooks that are reaching the end of life and enhancements to our cyber security systems. An $8,000 increase is needed for new server maintenance and support.

  • A salary increase of 3.9% is budgeted for contractual increases to our teaching staff, support staff and administrators. Also included in this line item is the cost for our day to day substitutes through ESS (formerly Source4Teachers) budgeted at $370,000.

  • The budget includes a benefit increase of $696,115 due to an increase in the state mandated PSERS rate increase of eligible salaries from 34.29% to 34.51%. We have also budgeted for an estimated 10% increase in health insurance. Final health insurance figures will be released in time for the Final Proposed Budget in May.

  • Revenues are projected to increase by 0.29% with all of the increase coming from the state reimbursement of 50% of mandated retirement expenses.

December 18, 2019 - Resolution not to exceed the Act 1 Index Board approved

Summary of the Budget Process 12/18/19:
  • The School Board passed the Resolution not to exceed the Act 1 Index of 2.6%

  • The net result of the budget items presented to the Board reflects a preliminary overall deficit of $2,777,870. This is the worst case scenario as it relates to projected school spending and revenues for the 2020-2021 school year. By passing the resolution at Wednesday’s (12/18/19) School Board Meeting, the Board has limited the tax increase for the 2020-2021 school year to 2.6%. There has been no determination what the tax increase will be by the time the Final Budget is approved in June, however, an increase for the 2020-2021 school year cannot be more than 2.6% (our district’s Act 1 index as specified by the PA Department of Education). There is still a tremendous amount of work to be done on this budget by the School Board and Administration between now and when the final budget is passed in June.  Costs will be trimmed while balancing our ability to provide the best possible education for all of our students.

April 1, 2020: Proposed Final Budget Presentation

April 15, 2020: Board Vote on Proposed Final Budget
The School Board approved the Proposed Final Budget presentation with a 2.6% tax increase as a “worst-case” scenario (millage increase of 2.99 mills for a new millage rate of 117.99 mills). This would result in a real estate tax increase of roughly $103.41 to the average homeowner (calculated on the current median household assessed value of $34,585). That calculated increase may still be adjusted to a lower rate, however it cannot exceed this amount as an average.

The biggest driving force behind the expenditure budget increase is an increase in state mandated special education costs of more than $223,000 and an increase in transportation services needed of more than $161,355. This budget also reflects an expectation of reduced revenues based on the current state of the economy.

This budget shows the maximum, potential tax increase allowable for the 2020-2021 year. A goal of a 0% increase is ideal, and more reductions will be needed to meet this goal.

Final Budget is scheduled for a vote by the School Board on June 3.

Proposed Budget form PDE 2028

June 3, 2020 Final Budget Presentation
Final Budget - PDE 2028


The Board passed the Final Budget for 2020-2021 that included a 0% tax increase. The millage rate will remain at 115.0 mills.

Over the last ten years, the District has faced several unfunded or underfunded mandates.

  • Charter school tuition (state mandate) costs have increased 178.8%
  • PSERS (state retirement system) costs have increased 615.9%
  • Special education (federal mandate) have increased 41.8%

In those last ten years, the real estate tax millage rate has increased 5.6%. The only way it was possible to keep taxes down with those large increases, was because of prudent fiscal planning throughout the years. 

Palisades SD Millage Rates

This is the seventh year the School Board will use funds from the Retirement Spike Fund (a savings for mitigating increasing retirement expenses) to cover a significant increase in retirement contributions, topping more than 34.5% of eligible salaries; all school districts across the state have been facing this problem.  These funds are being utilized to offset this increasing cost, while not overburdening taxpayers with high spikes in the retirement rates. 

Other projects funded in this budget for the 2020-2021 school year from district savings (not requiring additional tax dollars) include: completion of the PHS Science Wing renovation, upgrading teacher laptops, PHS chiller replacement, and several important safety and security upgrades.