As there are no media reports of last night’s Allentown School District’s board meeting so perhaps you will allow me to provide the public a few details. First off Robert Smith was re-elected to serve as board president. The vote was unanimous. Dr. Ellen Bishop will replace Debra Lamb as vice president. Charlie Thiel was also nominated for the position. There was a lot of general business to do with policy, facilities, and education, but the major news to come from the meeting was the presentation of next year’s preliminary budget. In what is now an annual ordeal the board and administration tried to digest another ten million dollar deficit gap between projected revenues and expenses. This after four years of tax increases, a twenty percent staff reduction, and general and effective belt tightening. Unfortunately the costs that we can’t control, benefits (which included retirement contributions, and health care) and expenses related to charter schools continue to escalate at an unprecedented rate. These costs are projected to continue rising for at least the next several years then plateau at that elevated rate far past our lifetimes. Harrisburg created this mess, both parties share the blame, and only they can solve the problem that is destroying Allentown’s public schools. So far they have not cared enough to act. Scott Armstrong
Scott, thank you for the report and your service as a school board member. As for the mess in Harrisburg, as an independent candidate in the recent election, I note that not one Republican or Democrat, including yourself, publicly endorsed me for State Representative. I mention this because many members of both parties privately acknowledged that I would have better served the district than their candidate. Pension reform failed to pass despite a Republican Governor and both chambers of the State House. The real mess is partisan politics.